SpeedCAP: An Efficient Method for Estimating Neural Activation Patterns Using Electrically Evoked Compound Action-Potentials in Cochlear Implant Users.


OBJECTIVES: Electrically evoked compound action-potentials (ECAPs) can be recorded using the electrodes in a cochlear implant (CI) and represent the synchronous responses of the electrically stimulated auditory nerve. ECAPs can be obtained using a forward-masking method that measures the neural response to a probe and masker electrode separately and in combination. The panoramic ECAP (PECAP) analyses measured ECAPs obtained using multiple combinations of masker and probe electrodes and uses a nonlinear optimization algorithm to estimate current spread from each electrode and neural health along the cochlea. However, the measurement of ECAPs from multiple combinations of electrodes is too time consuming for use in clinics. Here, we propose and evaluate SpeedCAP, a speedy method for obtaining the PECAP measurements that minimizes recording time by exploiting redundancies between multiple ECAP measures. DESIGN: In the first study, 11 users of Cochlear Ltd. CIs took part. ECAPs were recorded using the forward-masking artifact-cancelation technique at the most comfortable loudness level (MCL) for every combination of masker and probe electrodes for all active electrodes in the users' MAPs, as per the standard PECAP recording paradigm. The same current levels and recording parameters were then used to collect ECAPs in the same users with the SpeedCAP method. The ECAP amplitudes were then compared between the two conditions, as were the corresponding estimates of neural health and current spread calculated using the PECAP method previously described by Garcia et al. The second study measured SpeedCAP intraoperatively in 8 CI patients and with all maskers and probes presented at the same current level to assess feasibility. ECAPs for the subset of conditions where the masker and probe were presented on the same electrode were compared with those obtained using the slower approach leveraged by the standard clinical software. RESULTS: Data collection time was reduced from ≈45 to ≈8 minutes. There were no significant differences between normalized root mean squared error (RMSE) repeatability metrics for post-operative PECAP and SpeedCAP data, nor for the RMSEs calculated between PECAP and SpeedCAP data. The comparison achieved 80% power to detect effect sizes down to 8.2% RMSE. When between-participant differences were removed, both the neural-health (r = 0.73) and current-spread (r = 0.65) estimates were significantly correlated ( p < 0.0001, df = 218) between SpeedCAP and PECAP conditions across all electrodes, and showed RMSE errors of 12.7 ± 4.7% and 16.8 ± 8.8%, respectively (with the ± margins representing 95% confidence intervals). Valid ECAPs were obtained in all patients in the second study, demonstrating intraoperative feasibility of SpeedCAP. No significant differences in RMSEs were detectable between post- and intra-operative ECAP measurements, with the comparison achieving 80% power to detect effect sizes down to 13.3% RMSE. CONCLUSIONS: The improved efficiency of SpeedCAP provides time savings facilitating multi-electrode ECAP recordings in routine clinical practice. SpeedCAP data collection is sufficiently quick to record intraoperatively, and adds no more than 8.2% error to the ECAP amplitudes. Such measurements could thereafter be submitted to models such as PECAP to provide patient-specific patterns of neural activation to inform programming of clinical MAPs and identify causes of poor performance at the electrode-nerve interface of CI users. The speed and accuracy of these measurements also opens up a wide range of additional research questions to be addressed.