Development and In-Silico and Ex-Vivo Validation of a Software for a Semi-Automated Segmentation of the Round Window Niche to Design a Patient Specific Implant to Treat Inner Ear Disorders
The aim of this study was to develop and validate a semi-automated segmentation approach that identifies the round window niche (RWN) and round window membrane (RWM) for use in the development of patient individualized round window niche implants (RNI) to treat inner ear disorders. Twenty cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) datasets of unilateral temporal bones of patients were included in the study. Defined anatomical landmarks such as the RWM were used to develop a customized 3D Slicer™ plugin for semi-automated segmentation of the RWN. Two otolaryngologists (User 1 and User 2) segmented the datasets manually and semi-automatically using the developed software. Both methods were compared in-silico regarding the resulting RWM area and RWN volume. Finally, the developed software was validated ex-vivo in N = 3 body donor implantation tests with additively manufactured RNI. The independently segmented temporal bones of the different Users showed a strong consistency in the volume of the RWN and the area of the RWM. The volume of the semi-automated RWN segmentations were 48 ± 11% smaller on average than the manual segmentations and the area of the RWM of the semi-automated segmentations was 21 ± 17% smaller on average than the manual segmentation. All additively manufactured implants, based on the semi-automated segmentation method could be implanted successfully in a pressure-tight fit into the RWN. The implants based on the manual segmentations failed to fit into the RWN and this suggests that the larger manual segmentations were over-segmentations. This study presents a semi-automated approach for segmenting the RWN and RWM in temporal bone CBCT scans that is efficient, fast, accurate, and not dependent on trained users. In addition, the manual segmentation, often positioned as the gold-standard, actually failed to pass the implantation validation.