Modifying cochlear implant design: Advantages of placing a return electrode in the modiolus

Steven Y. Ho, Richard J. Wiet, Claus Peter Richter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Hypothesis: A modiolar return electrode significantly increases the current flow across spiral ganglion cells into the modiolus, and may decrease the cochlear implant's power requirements. Background: Ideal cochlear implants should maximize current flow into the modiolus to stimulate auditory neurons. Previous efforts to facilitate current flow through the modiolus included the fabrication and use of precurved electrodes designed to "hug" the modiolus and silastic positioners designed to place the electrodes closer to the modiolus. In contrast to earlier efforts, this study explores the effects of return electrode placement on current distributions in the modiolus. Methods: The effects of return electrode positioning on current flow in the modiolus were studied in a Plexiglas model of the cochlea. Results of model measurements were confirmed by measurements in the modiolus of human temporal bones. The return electrode was placed either within the modiolus, or remotely, outside the temporal bone, simulating contemporary cochlear implant configurations using monopolar stimulation. Results: Cochlear model results clearly show that modiolar current amplitudes can be influenced significantly by the location of the return electrode, being larger when placed into the modiolus. Temporal bone data show similar findings. Voltages recorded in the modiolus are, on average, 2.8 times higher with the return electrode in the modiolus compared with return electrode locations outside the temporal bone. Conclusion: Placing a cochlear implant's return electrode in the modiolus should significantly reduce its power consumption. Reducing power requirements should lead to improved efficiency, safer long-term use, and longer device life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)497-503
Number of pages7
JournalOtology and Neurotology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2004


  • Cochlear implant
  • Design
  • Modiolus
  • Return electrode

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Clinical Neurology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Modifying cochlear implant design: Advantages of placing a return electrode in the modiolus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this