Facial nerve stimulation with cochlear implantation

J. K. Niparko, D. L. Oviatt, N. J. Coker, L. Sutton, S. B. Waltzman, N. L. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


The course of the facial nerve may place it within the current field generated by an activated cochlear implant to produce incidental facial movement. We investigated the presence of facial nerve stimulation associated with cochlear implants in the VA Cooperative Study of Advanced Cochlear Implants. Twelve of 82 patients enrolled in this study demonstrated facial nerve stimulation within 2 years of implant activation. Facial nerve stimulation in six patients with multiple channel implants (Nucleus or Ineraid devices) either resolved spontaneously (n = 2), or was eliminated by deactivating basal (n = 2) or apical (n = 2) electrodes. Two of six patients with single-channel electrodes (3-M/Vienna devices) demonstrated facial nerve stimulation that resolved spontaneously (n = 2), resolved with lowering current output (n = 2), or was refractory to processor adjustment (n = 2). Intraoperative assessment in one of the refractory cases indicated that facial nerve stimulation resulted from current spread through the modiolus to activate the facial nerve. A variety of factors, including implant design, stimulus parameters, and local tissue impedances, may interact to produce incidental facial stimulation. Low-impedance pathways between the scala tympani and the modiolus may deserve increased recognition as an interactive factor in cochlear implant performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)826-830
Number of pages5
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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