News Column

Patent Issued for Recognition of Implantable Medical Device

August 6, 2014

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Journal of Engineering -- According to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews journalists, a patent by the inventors van Dijk, Bastiaan (Mechelen, BE); Gibson, Peter (South Cooge, AU), filed on February 9, 2007, was published online on July 22, 2014.

The assignee for this patent, patent number 8784312, is Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU).

Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention relates to implantable medical devices, and more particularly, to recognition of implantable medical devices.

"Implantable hearing prostheses provide the benefit of hearing to individuals suffering from severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss is due to the absence or destruction of the hair cells in the cochlea which transduce acoustic signals into nerve impulses. An implantable hearing prosthesis essentially simulates the cochlear hair cells by delivering electrical stimulation to the auditory nerve fibers. This causes the brain to perceive a hearing sensation resembling the natural hearing sensation.

"The present invention is particularly concerned with situations where a user, patient or recipient, 'recipient' herein has an external processing device that communicates with an implanted device. For example, in a modern, conventional cochlear implant, an external speech processor transmits power and data to the implanted device via an inductive coil arrangement. The implanted device includes an electrode array to deliver the desired electrical stimuli to the cochlea of the recipient.

"Once implanted, the implant system is typically adjusted to suit the specific needs of the recipient. As the dynamic range for electrical stimulation is relatively narrow and varies across recipients and electrodes, there is a need to individually tailor the characteristics of electrical stimulation for each recipient. This procedure, often referred to as 'fitting,' 'programming,' 'mapping' ('mapping' herein) involves measuring and controlling the amount of electrical current delivered to the cochlea. Typically, a clinician, audiologist or other medical practitioner (generally and collectively referred to as 'audiologist' herein) uses interactive software and computer hardware to create individualized programs, commands, data, settings, parameters, instructions, and/or other information (generally and collectively referred to as a 'MAP' herein) that define the specific characteristics used to generate the electrical stimulation signals presented to the electrodes of the implanted electrode assembly. It is increasingly common for recipients to have a cochlear implant for each ear, which is commonly known as bilateral implantation. The advantages of bilateral implantation vary from recipient to recipient, and may include improved speech perception, and the ability to localize sounds. However, due to differences in the anatomy and physiology of recipients, and in the need to precisely place the electrode array, there will almost always be differences in the map between the left and right ears. The recipient will have two speech processor devices, each operating according to a different MAP. The speech processor devices are typically identical in appearance, and may inadvertently be swapped. This is a particular issue for very young and elderly recipients, as well as those with conditions such visual impairment. The use of the incorrect speech processor device will at best lead to reduced speech perception, as the incorrect MAP is applied, and potentially to pain for the recipient as excessive stimulation values are utilized for that ear."

In addition to obtaining background information on this patent, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "In a broad form, the present invention provides multiple sets of operating parameters (maps or the like) within each external device, each set being associated with an identified implant. Before the external device begins to transmit stimulation or other operational data to the implant, it determines the identity of the implant, and then uses the corresponding set.

"According to one aspect, the present invention provides a method of controlling interaction between an external device and an implanted device, the method including at least the steps of:

"establishing communications between the implanted device and the external device;

"the external device determining an identification of the implant and comparing the identification with identifications in a stored list;

"if the device matches one of said identifications, using a corresponding set of operating parameters to interact with said implant; and

"otherwise, not interacting with said device.

"According to another aspect, the present invention provides an external device adapted to interact with an implanted device, the external device being adapted to detect an identification from an implanted device, determine if the identification corresponds to one of a plurality of identifications, and if the identification does correspond, utilise a stored set of operating parameters corresponding to said identification.

"According to another aspect, the present invention provides an external hearing device adapted to interact with an implanted device, the external device being able to be operatively positioned to interact with either a left ear or right ear implanted device, said external device including sensor means operatively adapted to detect whether the external device is positioned to interact with the left ear or the right ear implanted device, and in response to said sensor utilise a stored set of operating parameters corresponding to the left ear or the right ear implanted device.

"The present invention accordingly provides an arrangement whereby, for the bilateral implantee, it does not matter which SP is selected for which ear--both can store the map for each ear, and deliver the correct stimulation instructions for the respective implant. If the implant is not identified, the SP will not operate. The invention can be applied in any form of implanted device where multiple external devices may be inadvertently associated with the wrong implanted device.

"The invention is also applicable to implanted devices where the external device may only be periodically connected, for example, a totally implantable auditory prosthesis."

For more information, see this patent: van Dijk, Bastiaan; Gibson, Peter. Recognition of Implantable Medical Device. U.S. Patent Number 8784312, filed February 9, 2007, and published online on July 22, 2014. Patent URL:

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Source: Journal of Engineering

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