Latest Developments in Cochlear Implants: What’s New in 2019

We’re back from a fascinating CI2019 Miami with the American Cochlear Implant Alliance. At this year’s conference, more than 1,000 surgeons, audiologists, clinicians, and researchers came together to discuss the latest developments in the field of hearing implants and solutions for hearing loss.

This is Why: All throughout the conference, we wanted to show why we’re guided by our core philosophy, why we’re driven to continuously innovate, and why we’re committed to close cooperation as professional partners.

Let’s take a look at our favorite developments in the field of cochlear implants from CI2019.


SONNET 2, AudioKey, AudioLink, and MAESTRO 8.0

At CI2019, we had hands-on experience for our whole line of great new cochlear implant technology. Don’t worry, you can get your own guided tour! Check out our Online Launch Event to get an in-depth guide through our new SONNET 2 Audio Processor, AudioKey app, AudioLink accessory, and MAESTRO 8.0 system software.


Atraumatic Electrode Arrays

A deaf ear is not a dead ear: Many presentations highlighted that scala tympani electrode placement provides the most benefit and that deviation into the scala vestibuli should be avoided.

From the very beginning, preserving delicate natural cochlear structures has been at the core of our cochlear implant philosophy. All of our arrays are free-fitting, ultra-flexible arrays designed for gentle, reliable placement in the scala tympani.


EAS and Hearing Preservation

Along with atraumatic electrode placement, a very prominent topic across sessions was the value of  preserving residual hearing. With functional low frequency hearing, patients can utilize combined electric-acoustic stimulation. The research showed many benefits, especially for music appreciation and hearing in challenging environments.

Making the most of natural residual hearing has always been a part of our philosophy. This year marks 20 years of EAS at MED-EL, from pioneering and launching the world’s first EAS system to the new SONNET 2 EAS, our 4th generation EAS audio processor.

This is also especially important as it moves into expanding candidacy and treating high-frequency hearing loss before it reaches severe-to-profound across all frequencies.

And a really exciting look towards the future: The University of North Carolina CI Research team presented fascinating research into using post-operative imaging to create individualized anatomy-based fitting for EAS.

Complete Cochlear Coverage and Angular Insertion Depth

Our philosophy has always been to offer long electrode arrays to use as much of the cochlea as possible. Now more than ever, research across the field is focusing on the benefits of maximizing cochlear coverage for each cochlea. With such a broad range in sizes between different cochleae, it’s essential to target angular insertion depth and select an individualized electrode array for each unique cochlea.

There was also lively discussion on the benefits of pitch-matching and avoiding possible over-reliance on brain plasticity. If you can get a closer match to natural pitch mapping from day one, why wouldn’t you?


Cochlear Implants and Single-Sided Deafness

The field of cochlear implants is constantly evolving, and this is especially true for candidacy. There were many compelling presentations on the need to address single-sided deafness and the benefits of binaural hearing through a cochlear implant for these candidates.

Exciting news: We’re excited that our SYNCHRONY cochlear implant is now the first and only cochlear implant to be FDA-approved for single-sided deafness for candidates 5 years and up. Another major step forward in expanding candidacy and providing effective solutions!


Individualized Cochlear Implants

At CI2018 in Antwerp, we announced the era of individualized cochlear implants had begun. By combining the intuitive OTOPLAN software with our comprehensive portfolio of flexible electrodes, we introduced a level of individualization never before seen in cochlear implants.

This year at CI2019 in Miami, we were thrilled to see how rapidly individualized cochlear implants gained momentum. With practical clinical workflow and tons of possibility, individualization is quickly on its way to becoming the standard of care for modern cochlear implants.

Why does this mean so much to us?

Individualized cochlear implants bring together the core philosophies that have always driven our design and innovation.

  • Protecting delicate cochlear structures
  • Utilizing as much as the cochlea as possible
  • Providing the closest possible match to natural sound coding
We’re excited to see so much energetic research into all the benefits and possibilities of individualized cochlear implants: A new era in cochlear implants has truly arrived.

The field of hearing implants is incredibly dynamic. We are honored to be your professional partner in driving research and innovation, and we are looking forward to so many more remarkable developments and breakthroughs.

Update: SYNCHRONY 2 Cochlear Implant

We never stop innovating: Check out the SYNCHRONY 2 Cochlear Implant!  And of course, we can’t wait to show you what 2020 will bring.


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Thanks again to the organizers at ACIA and all the CI2019 participants for such a engaging meeting.

Of course, there was so much more excellent research presented, including:

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*Not all products, indications, and features shown are available in all areas. Please contact your local MED-EL representative for more information.

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The content on this website is for general informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Please contact your doctor or hearing specialist to learn what type of hearing solution is suitable for your specific needs. Not all products, features, or indications shown are approved in all countries.

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