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Cochlear Implant - Frequently Asked Questions

What is Cochlear Implant?

A cochlear implant is a small electronic device that helps people hear. It can be used for people who are deaf or very hard of hearing. A cochlear implant is not the same thing as a hearing aid. It is implanted using surgery, and works in a different way.

One part of the cochlear implant is an outside device. This is made up of a microphone/receiver, a speech processor, and an antenna. This part of the implant receives the sound, converts the sound into an electrical signal, and sends it to the inside part of the cochlear implant.

The second part of the device is surgically implanted into the bone surrounding the ear. It is made up of a receiver-stimulator, which accepts, decodes, and then sends an electrical signal to the brain.


Who Needs a Cochlear Implant?

A cochlear implant might not be the right option for everyone. The way a person is selected for cochlear implants is changing as the understanding of the brain's hearing (auditory) pathways improves and the technology changes.

Both children and adults can be candidates for cochlear implants. People who are candidates for this device may have been born deaf or become deaf after learning to speak. Children as young as 1 year old are now candidates for this surgery. Although criteria are slightly different for adults and children, they are based on similar guidelines:


How Does it Work?

Sounds are transmitted through the air. In a normal ear, sound waves cause the eardrum and then the middle ear bones to vibrate. This sends a wave of vibrations into the inner ear (cochlea). These waves are then converted by the cochlea into electrical signals, which are sent along the auditory nerve to the brain.

A deaf person does not have a functioning inner ear. A cochlear implant tries to replace the function of the inner ear by turning sound into electrical energy. This energy can then be used to stimulate the cochlear nerve (the nerve for hearing), sending "sound" signals to the brain.


The Surgery Process

The surgery consists of three stages:

  1. Pre-operative Stage: This stage includes assessments such as Audiometry, Speech and language, MRI/CT scans, Blood tests. In this stage, the ENT consultant will determine if the patient is a right candidate for the implant.
  2. Surgery stage: The device is implanted by the ENT surgeon and takes about 2 hours. The patient is required to stay in the hospital for about 3-4 days.
  3. Post Operative stage:

The outside part of the cochlear implant is secured to the receiver-stimulator that was implanted behind the ear. It is only at this point that you will be able to use the device.

Once the surgery site is well healed, and the implant is attached to the outside processor (usually after 1 month after the surgery), the patient will be able to work with specialists to learn to "hear" and process sound using the cochlear implant. These specialists include:

This is a very important part of the process. You will need to work closely with your team of specialists to get the most benefit from the implant. Speech therapy sessions are of uttermost important following an implant for rehabilitation of post-lingual skills for children/adults and learning of verbal skills for pre-lingual children.


Risks of Surgery

A cochlear implant is a relatively safe surgery. However, all surgeries pose some risks. Common risks include:

These are quite uncommon now that the surgery is performed through a small surgical cut.



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Jane and I wanted to thank you so much for the care you and your colleagues took of Jane whist in Mauritius. Everything went well and Prakash did a great job of getting us to your clinic and back over the 6 dialysis days. We had a wonderful holiday and our children and grandchildren plus the other family all enjoyed it enormously. Best wishes to you all

Andrew and Jane Stewart