Objectives: The aim of this study was to analyse the tissue surrounding the University of Melbourne's (UOMs) multi-channel cochlear implant electrode array and cochlear limited replacements, after long-term implantations. In particular, it aimed to identify the particulate material in the fibrous tissue capsule of the arrays implanted in 1978, 1983, and 1998, by using the Australian Synchrotron for X-ray fluorescence microscopy (XFM) to reveal the characteristic spectrum of metal, in particular platinum. This also helped to determine its format and chemical state. Tissue was retrieved following the recipient's death in 2007. Methods: Tissue was fixed and sections taken across the UOM and Cochlear Corporation (CI-22 and CI-24) electrode tracks. These were stained with Masson's trichrome. The Australian Synchrotron enabled XFM to accurately identify platinum from its characteristic fluorescence spectrum. Results: There was a fibrous tissue capsule (about 100-µm thick) and small regions of calcification around the UOM and CI-22 arrays, but a thinner capsule (40–60-µm thick) around CI-24, and a greater degree of calcification. Dark particulate matter was observed within macrophages and especially in fibrous tissue in proximity to the UOM and CI-22 arrays. This was identified as platinum using X-ray fluorescence. There was also diffusion of platinum into the tissue surrounding the UOM and CI-22 electrodes and fine particles had penetrated the spiral ligament. Discussion: The larger particulate matter in the tissue around the UOM and CI-22 arrays suggested that it had flaked off in the manufacturing of the UOM electrodes. The more diffuse spread of platinum in the tissue around the UOM and CI-22 electrodes was likely due to electrolysis, probably from charge imbalance with the bipolar pulses from the UOM implant. This did not occur with the Cochlear CI-24 device. Furthermore, the widespread fine particles of platinum could have also been due to corrosion, especially from the UOM electrodes.
- cochlear implants