Cochlear implantation (CI) is a complex surgical procedure that restores hearing in patients with severe deafness. The successful outcome of the implanted device relies on a group of factors, some of them unpredictable or difficult to control. Uncertainties on the electrode array position and the electrical properties of the bone make it difficult to accurately compute the current propagation delivered by the implant and the resulting neural activation. In this context, we use uncertainty quantification methods to explore how these uncertainties propagate through all the stages of CI computational simulations. To this end, we employ an automatic framework, encompassing from the finite element generation of CI models to the assessment of the neural response induced by the implant stimulation. To estimate the confidence intervals of the simulated neural response, we propose two approaches. First, we encode the variability of the cochlear morphology among the population through a statistical shape model. This allows us to generate a population of virtual patients using Monte Carlo sampling and to assign to each of them a set of parameter values according to a statistical distribution. The framework is implemented and parallelized in a High Throughput Computing environment that enables to maximize the available computing resources. Secondly, we perform a patient-specific study to evaluate the computed neural response to seek the optimal post-implantation stimulus levels. Considering a single cochlear morphology, the uncertainty in tissue electrical resistivity and surgical insertion parameters is propagated using the Probabilistic Collocation method, which reduces the number of samples to evaluate. Results show that bone resistivity has the highest influence on CI outcomes. In conjunction with the variability of the cochlear length, worst outcomes are obtained for small cochleae with high resistivity values. However, the effect of the surgical insertion length on the CI outcomes could not be clearly observed, since its impact may be concealed by the other considered parameters. Whereas the Monte Carlo approach implies a high computational cost, Probabilistic Collocation presents a suitable trade-off between precision and computational time. Results suggest that the proposed framework has a great potential to help in both surgical planning decisions and in the audiological setting process.

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Published on 01/01/2018

DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2018.00498
Licence: CC BY-NC-SA license

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