Effect of transducer attachment on vibration transmission and transcranial attenuation for direct drive bone conduction stimulation
Journal article, 2019
Direct drive bone conduction devices (BCDs) are used to rehabilitate patients with conductive or mixed hearing loss by stimulating the skull bone directly, either with an implanted transducer (active transcutaneous BCDs), or through a skin penetrating abutment rigidly coupled to an external vibrating transducer (percutaneous BCDs). Active transcutaneous BCDs have been under development to overcome limitations of the percutaneous bone anchored hearing aid (BAHA), mainly related to the skin penetration. The attachment of a direct drive BCD to the skull bone can differ significantly between devices, and possibly influence the vibrations' transmission to the cochleae. In this study, four different attachments are considered: (A) small-sized flat surface, (B) extended flat surface, (C) bar with a screw at both ends, and (D) standard bone anchored hearing aid screw. A, B, and C represent three active transcutaneous options, while D is for percutaneous applications. The primary aim of this study was to investigate how the different transcutaneous attachments (A, B, and C) affect the transmission of vibrations to the cochleae to the ipsilateral and the contralateral side. A secondary aim was to evaluate and compare transcranial attenuation (TA, ipsilateral minus contralateral signal level) between transcutaneous (A, B, and C) and percutaneous attachments (D). Measurements were performed on four human heads, measuring cochlear promontory velocity with a LDV (laser Doppler vibrometer) and sound pressure in the ear canal (ECSP) with an inserted microphone. The stimulation signal was a swept sine between 0.1 and 10 kHz. The comparison of ipsilateral transmission between transcutaneous adaptors A, B, and C was in agreement with previous findings, confirming that: (1) Adaptor C seems to give the most effective transmission for frequencies around 6 kHz but somewhat lower in the mid frequency range, and (2) keeping a smaller contact area seems to provide advantages compared to a more extended one. The same trends were seen ipsilaterally and contralaterally. The observed TA was similar for adaptors A, B, and C at the mastoid position, ranging -10-0 dB below 500 Hz, and 10-20 dB above. A lower TA was seen above 500 Hz when using adaptor D at the parietal position.