What are Cochlear Implants? 

An electronic hearing device that stimulates nerves inside the inner ear electrically and is fixed as well as designed in such a way that it can produce convenient hearing sensations to a person with severe deafness. This electronic device is called a cochlear implant.

The cochlear device works differently from a hearing aid.

Cochlear implants circumvent the damaged portion of the ear by directly stimulating the auditory nerve that sends signals to the brain.

Hearing through Cochlear implants unlike normal hearing requires time to learn and relearn.

Who is a candidate for Cochlear Implant?

  • Cochlear implants can be fitted for people who are deaf or have a severe hard-of-hearing condition.
  • Children above 12 months of age with severe hard-of-hearing issue can be given Cochlear implants
  • Adults with excessive loss of hearing can also be given this implant.

What are the different types of Cochlear Implants?

  • There are various types of cochlear implants but all of them have the same parts.
  • One part of the cochlear implant is implanted into the temporal bone surgically. This implant consists of the receiver and stimulators that decode and relay electrical signals to the brain.
  • A microphone, an antenna and a speech processor make up the external second part of the implant. This part converts the received sound signals into electrical signals and sends it to the inner device.

Who performs Cochlear implant surgery?

  • Cochlear implant surgery is a procedure usually undertaken by a team typically consisting of an audiologist, otologist (ear surgeon), psychologist, speech-language pathologist and a therapist.

What are the preparations for Cochlear Implant surgery?

  • Various tests are conducted by the ENT doctors to confirm the candidature for the Cochlear implant surgery. Inner, middle and external ear are examined thoroughly for any infection or abnormality.
  • Patient’s competency with the Cochlear implant is determined through a series of psychological examinations.
  • A CT scan is done to determine if the cochlea has a normal shape. An MRI can also be conducted to determine the inner structure of the ear and to ascertain that no inner growth will interfere with the Cochlear implant.

What are the benefits of Cochlear implants?

  • Cochlear implants enable a deaf person to hear environmental sounds and conversations at comfortable listening levels
  • Sounds like doorbell, horns and the telephone ring can be detected much more easily with the help of these implants.
  • People with Cochlear implants can keep their voice loudness at an appropriate level
  • Less effort is required in understanding others with the help of these implants.
  • Speech can be understood on the basis of only listening. There is no need for lip-reading.
  • People with the Cochlear implants can use the telephone and enjoy music.

What are the risks of Cochlear Implant surgery?

  • Complications may arise from the general anaesthesia administered during the procedure.
  • Due to the closeness of the facial nerve to where the surgeon places the implant, injury may occur to the same. This complication may cause permanent or temporary paralysis or weakening of the concerned part of the face.
  • People with abnormally formed inner ear structure may be more prone to the complications of the Cochlear implant surgery. This complication may lead to meningitis- infection of the inner lining of the brain.
  • The risk of leakage of the fluid surrounding the brain from the hole created in the inner ear arises after this procedure.
  • The risk of leakage of the fluid from the inner ear through the hole created to place the implant also arises.
  • The skin wound might get infected after the Cochlear implant procedure.
  • Complications may arise due to the collection of blood at the site of the surgery.
  • The patient might also experience attacks of dizziness post-surgery.
  • The patient might experience a ringing or buzzing sensation in the ear, also known as tinnitus.
  • The sense of taste might be altered due to possible damage to the concerned nerve during the surgery.
  • The patient might feel numbness around the ear after the surgery.
  • If the body rejects the implant the patient may suffer from localized inflammation.

What is the recovery time after Cochlear Implant Surgery?

The time taken for recovery varies from person to person but is expected to be two to five days.

Can implant users swim, shower or play in sports?

  • The patients are advised not to indulge in heavy lifting for the next few weeks after the implantation.
  • Jogging, yoga, weightlifting or other such physical activities must be started again only on the doctor’s advice.
  • Showers can be taken after a few days post-surgery unless advised otherwise by the doctor.

How much does Cochlear Implant cost?

  • The surgery is costly; cochlear implants usually cost around Rs. 800000-900000.