A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device which is used when the inner ear is damaged and not working as it does.
The cochlear implant completely replaces the function of the inner ear which helps the person ( effected with hearing loss ) to get an effective and long-term hearing solution.
Different from hearing aids which makes the sound louder, cochlear implant bypassed the damaged hair cells of the inner ear ( Cochlea ) to provide the sound signals directly to the auditory nerve (hearing nerve).
Who Need Cochlear Implant Surgery?
The cochlear implant surgery is for people who have:
- Moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears.
- Receive very little or no benefit from hearing loss.
- Scored 50% or less in sentence recognition test which is done in the ear to be implanted
- Score 60% or less in sentence recognition test which is done in the non-implanted ear or in both ear with hearing aids.
How Cochlear implant Surgery is Done?
Cochlear implant surgery can be done either in a hospital or a clinic. This surgery lasts from 2 to 4 hours. The general anesthesia will be given to you to make you sleep during surgery. After this, the following procedure will be performed:
- Your surgeon will make a cut behind the skin of the ear and then open the mastoid bone.
- The surgeon will identify the facial nerves and creates an opening in between them to reach the cochlea and then insert the implant electrodes into the cochlea.
- The surgeon will place an electronic device which is known as receiver, under the skin behind the ear while securing it to the skull in the related area.
- After this, the surgeon will close the incisions and you will be moved into the recovery area.
- You will be discharged after 2 hours of observation.
What Happens After Cochlear Implant Surgery?
After surgery, you may experience:
- Pressure or discomfort over the implanted ear
- Dizziness or nausea
It’s not necessary that you will experience these conditions. Most of the patients feel well enough to return the home the same day. While leaving the hospital your surgeon will give you the following instruction:
- How to care for the incisions
- How to change dressings carefully
- How to care for your stitches
- How to take a bath avoiding the ear or how to clean your ear
A follow-up appointment will be made for about one week to inspect the incisions and removing of stitches. After 4 to 6 weeks of the surgery, the external parts of the cochlear implant will be added which include a microphone and a speech processor.
When Cochlear Implant Will Activate?
After the surgery, you will be given some time to heal before the implant device is turned on or activated.
For activation of the cochlear implant device, your audiologist will:
- Adjust the sound processor so that it can fit you
- Check the components of the cochlear implant to ensure that they are working
- Determine what sounds you hears
- Provide your information for the proper care and use of the device
How Rehabilitation Can Help?
Rehabilitation includes training of the brain to understand sounds which are heard through the cochlear implant. Speech and environmental noises that you hear every day will be different from what you remember.
To recognize these sounds, your brain needs some time. This is an ongoing process and can be best achieved by wearing the speech processor frequently during waking hours.