Cochlear™ (cochlear) implants

Cochlear Ltd

Cochlear™ is the heaviest heavy weight in the implantable hearing prosthetics market. In fact, it estimates that it holds a 65% share of cochlear implants; with a sales revenue of $715M [1]. It’s big, well rooted (older than I am), and has a vast range of products. The variety was overwhelming when I started my studies in this field, so this is my attempt to alleviate that burden for newcomers as well as pros who need a quick reference point.

This post is one of three that I intend to publish on ranges of cochlear implants. Needless to say, this one’s about Cochlear™. I plan on giving the same layouts for MED-EL and Advanced Bionics cochlear implants at later dates.  I’ve listed all the processors, receiver/ simulators, and electrode arrays that Cochlear™ has commercially produced and I’ve placed them all into the figure below. If you’re having difficulty in remembering the various parts of a cochlear implant, or what function they serve, have a look here.

Cochlear

You’ll notice that I make a distinction between the external and implanted components and also between the receiver/ stimulator and electrode array. Some publications (including peer reviewed journal papers) don’t always differentiate between the two and I find that it causes a bit of confusion when you can have more than one electrode which can be connected to a receiver/ stimulator. For the sake of consistency keep in mind that there is a difference between the two parts and that we’re moving into an era of multiple electrode array options for a single receiver/ stimulator.

In the figure, each grey and white bar represents a year, so the CI22 was first released in 1982. Back then there weren’t any options – its was a complete system. The asterisk * shows where different components have the same name because they are part of a system with no forwards or backwards compatibility. (There are very few of these left around!). The bar in which the bottom of a box lies, shows the year Cochlear™ made it commercially available. The height of a box has no meaning other than that’s how much space I needed to write the name.

Cochlear likes to keep us alert, so they sometimes repeat a the same word for the processor and receiver/ stimulators. In fact, all stimulators have a Nucleus prefix. So the Nucleus 5 could be referring to either an internal or external component, but a CP920 coupled with a CI512 (which are soon to be re-released) is a specific combination.

Forwards or backwards compatibility is indicated by a line connecting one component to another, and a dashed line indicates planned backwards compatibility.  The colours don’t necessarily mean anything, but they should help you make better sense of it all. I’m sure there’s a missing line or component somewhere, so hit me with a comment or contact me if you think that something needs to be modified.

I’d like to thank Mary Grasmeder, a great audiological scientist at the University of Southampton Auditory Implant Service, for helping me with this work.

References
[1] Cochlear Limited. (2013) A shared future. Cochlear Annual Report 2013 [Online]. Available: http://www.cochlear.com/wps/wcm/connect/50c02a81-a224-4ca9-a639-bf045657c1a4/corporate_2013annualreport_financial_1.43MB.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CONVERT_TO=url&CACHEID=50c02a81-a224-4ca9-a639-bf045657c1a4.

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