A Precision Driver Device for Intraoperative Stimulation of a Bone Conduction Implant.
Semi-implantable bone conduction implants (BCI) and active middle ear implants (AMEI) for patients with sensorineural, conductive or mixed hearing loss commonly use an amplitude modulation technology to transmit power and sound signals from an external audio processor to the implant. In patients, the distance dependence of the signal amplitude is of minor importance as the skin thickness is constant and only varies between 3-7 mm. In this range, critical coupling transmission technique sufficiently reduces the variability in amplitude, but fails to provide well-defined amplitudes in many research and clinical applications such as intraoperative integrity tests where the distance range is exceeded by using sterile covers. Here we used the BCI Bonebridge (BB, Med-El, Austria) as an example to develop and demonstrate a system that synthesizes the transmission signal, determines the distance between the transmitter and the receiver implant coil and compensates transmission losses. When compared to an external audio processor (AP304) on an artificial mastoid, our system mainly decreased amplitude variability from over 11 dB to less than 3 dB for audio frequencies (0.1-10 kHz) at distances up to 15 mm, making it adequate for intraoperative and audiometric tests.