Introduction: Electrode array translocation is an unpredictable event with all types of arrays, even using a teleoperated robot in a clinical scenario. We aimed to compare the intracochlear trauma produced by the HiFocus™ Mid-Scala (MS) electrode array (Advanced Bionics, Valencia, CA, USA) using a teleoperated robot, with an automated robot connected to a navigation system to align the pre-curved tip of the electrode array with the coiling direction of the scala tympani (ST). Methods: Fifteen freshly frozen temporal bones were implanted with the MS array using the RobOtol® (Collin, Bagneux, France). In the first group (n = 10), the robot was teleoperated to insert the electrode array into the basal turn of the ST under stereomicroscopic vision, and then the array was driven by a slow-speed hydraulic insertion technique with an estimated placement of the pre-curved electrode tip. In the second group (n = 5), 3 points were obtained from the preoperative cone-beam computed tomography: the 2 first defining the ST insertion axis of the basal turn and a third one at the center of the ST at 270°. They provided the information to the automated system (RobOtol® connected with a navigation system) to automatically align the electrode array with the ST insertion axis and to aim the pre-curved tip toward the subsequent coiling of the ST. After this, the electrode array was manually advanced. Finally, the cochleae were obtained and fixed in a crystal resin, and the position of each electrode was determined by a micro-grinding technique. Results: In all cases, the electrode array was fully inserted into the cochlea and the depth of insertion was similar using both techniques. With the teleoperated robotic technique, translocations of the array were observed in 7/10 insertions (70%), but neither trauma nor array translocation occurred with automated robotic insertion. Conclusion: We have successfully tested an automated insertion system (robot + navigation) that could accurately align a pre-curved electrode array to the axis of the basal turn of the ST and its subsequent coiling, which reduced intracochlear insertion trauma and translocation.
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