What is Cochlear Implant?

Cochlea is a snail shaped part of your internal ear that enables you to hear and process sounds from your surroundings. Cochlea is supplied with auditory nerves which allow signals to reach your brain to get processed. Our internal ear has small hair and fluid which when vibrate because of sound, stimulate the auditory nerves and convert the signals to electric form. This is the form which is sent to the brain for processing. When this mechanism fails or its efficiency is reduced, cochlear implant is suggested to restore more normal hearing.

Before Surgery

Before the surgery is planned and suggested you need to undergo several hearing tests. These tests aim to check the actual condition of your hearing ability and to check if the surgery can be avoided. This is important because more modern hearing aids are available that allow us to hear normally. After you have qualified for the surgery, your doctor will analyze the condition of the cochlea and might also predict the improvement that you will feel after the surgery has been done. You might also have to take certain medications before the surgery. This varies from individual to individual.

How is it performed?

Cochlear implant surgery is an outpatient surgery and you can go home the same day. To perform the surgery an incision is made behind the ear to hide the scar line. After the incision has been made, mastoidectomy is performed to gain access to the internal ear. Once the access has been reached the doctor will make small holes in the bone and the surrounding area to keep the implant in place with the help of sutures. Once the outer implant has been secured, it is then connected with the cochlea to transmit the sound signals. After the implant has been placed the wound is closed and dressing is applied. You will have to wear a small device on your ear which will capture sounds and will transmit the sounds to the receiver in the form of digital information. Once received, the signal will be converted to electric form and will be sent to the inner part of the cochlea with the help of an electrode. The signal is then directly used to stimulate auditory nerves and in this way normal hearing is restored.

Potential Risks

Your surgeon needs to be cautious for not damaging some important nerves which are responsible for giving expressions to your face. You need to follow the given medication to help the wound heal faster and effectively. The wound should not come in contact with moisture, as this can lead to the development of infection.

Additional Information

Cochlear implants are one of the best ways to restore normal hearing patterns. It might be uncomfortable for some people to wear a piece of machine all day long on their ear. But you will have to learn to live with that over the time. Once you have set your routine well, you will not face any problems in your day to day life.