A cochlear implant is significantly beneficial for patients in which the hearing aids do not provide respite from deafness. A cochlear implant is fitted through cochlear implant surgery. The cochlear implant comprises an inner part and an outer part. A cochlear implant works by bypassing the damaged part in the ear. The cochlear implant sends the signal to the brain through the auditory nerve. The rehabilitation program after cochlear implant surgery is effective and allows the patient to get used to cochlear implants.
What Is Cochlear Implant?
A cochlear implant is an electronic device. It treats the hearing disability in people. A cochlear implant is also known as bionic ears. People who are not able to listen even after various hearing aids may undergo cochlear implant surgery. The cochlear implant does not improve the hearing ability of the patient. It rather improves the hearing environment and representation of sound in the patient for accurate listening. Cochlear implant generally has two parts:
External part: it consists of a microphone to receive sound signals, a processor that processes the sound received by a microphone, and a transmitter that transmits the processed sound into the internal part of the cochlear implant.
Internal Part: It comprises of the stimulating system that is affixed to the skull bone, and the electrodes which are inserted into the cochlear part of the ear.
Who Requires Cochlear Implant?
No doubt that the cochlear implant significantly improves the quality of life. However, not all patients are eligible for undergoing cochlear implant surgery. Following are some of the criteria considered by the surgeon before advising you for cochlear implant surgery:
- The deafness should be due to sensorineural hearing loss. It occurs when there is damage in the hair cells of the ear. This results in an unresponsive auditory nerve.
- Patients may acquire the speech but become deaf due to ototoxicity, injury, or illness.
- Congenital deafness
- The patient should be otherwise healthy to undergo surgery.
- The hearing aid has already been used for at least 3-6 months and there is no improved hearing with these aids.
What Are The Preparations Done Before Cochlear Implant Surgery?
The patient, once found eligible for cochlear transplant surgery, undergo a series of auditory examination. ENT surgeon considers various factors before cochlear implant surgery. These includes:
Audiology assessment: The surgeon will perform a comprehensive auditory test of the ears to determine the extent and severity of hearing loss. The doctor also determines the loss of language and speech.
Imaging: Doctors use a variety of imaging techniques to completely screen the inner ear. MRI and CT scans are generally used. The surgeon checks the condition of the nerves and anatomy of the inner ear. Apart from imaging techniques, the blood test isalso done to evaluate the overall health of the patient before surgery.
Prevention from infections: When the surgery involves pediatric patients, proper vaccination is advised to reduce the risk of infections.
What Is The Procedure For Cochlear Implant Surgery?
The cochlear implant surgery is done under general anesthesia. The surgery lasts for approximately 2-4 hours. The surgeon inserts the electrodes into the cochlea. The stimulator is attached to the skull bone. After the surgery, the patient is transferred to the ICU. The vital signs are monitored in ICU. Once the vital signs are stable, the staff shifts the patient into the general ward. The doctor may allow the patient to go home within 2-3 days after the surgery. The patient may able to resume routine activities within 1-2 weeks after the surgery.
How Cochlear Implant Functions?
A cochlear implant works in the patient which has an unresponsive auditory nerve. A cochlear implant helps to bypass that part of the inner ear which is damaged. It helps to stimulate the auditory nerve. The brain receives the signal generated by the implant through the auditory nerve. Thus, there is a difference between the signaling from a normal sound and signals generated by the implant. This is the reason why rehabilitation after post-surgery is significantly effective. It helps in improving the quality of life and allows the patient for conversation.
How The Post-Surgery Rehabilitation Program Help The Patients?
Post-surgery rehabilitation significantly helps the patient. The patient, through a rehabilitation program, learns how to make the best use of a cochlear implant. The cochlear implant is activated within 2-3 weeks after the surgery. This time is required for proper healing of the incision. After the activation of the implant, the mapping of the processor is done for fine-tuning. A team comprising of ENT surgeons, pediatricians, parents, and audiologists helps the patient during rehabilitation. During the rehabilitation period, the patient gets used to the cochlear implant.