WHAT ARE COCHLEAR IMPLANTS?
Cochlear implants can be defined as an advanced medical technology used to treat hearing disability in people mostly children.
A cochlear implant involves the use of a small audio processor placed behind the ear and an implant placed inside the inner ear of the person, hence connecting directly to the natural hearing system.
It is surgically placed in the ear to provide sound stimulation by replacing the typical hearing process with electrical signals which in turn stimulates the auditory nerve and the brain receives the signals and interprets the sounds.
A cochlear implant may be placed in one ear or both depending on how severe the hearing loss is especially for infants and young child still learning how to speak
TYPES OF COCHLEAR IMPLANT TECHNIQUE
There are two major types of cochlear implant technique include:
This is also called “standard mastoidectomy”, which has been in use for over 40 years and involves the use of an incision made behind the ear in other to access the mastoid bone and gain access into the middle ear and also the inner ear.
- The Traditional Cochlear Implant
This is a new technique employ by surgeons in other to reduce blood loss and injury to surrounding tissues and also save much time hence enhancing recovery time.
The hybrid implant is quite small and is not placed as deeply as the traditional cochlear implant however its frequency for detecting sounds is very high.
HOW DO COCHLEAR IMPLANTS WORK?
A cochlear implant can pick up sound waves and converts them into electrical impulses that cause a cochlear stimulation to give signals to the auditory nerve which in turn, signals the brain which interprets these electrical signals as sounds.
A cochlear implant consists of two-part namely the audio processor and the implant that is placed surgically at the inner ear. The audio processor is placed with a microphone and worn behind the ear this enables it to pick sounds and transmit those sounds to the implant inside the ear.
Hearing through a cochlear implant is quite different from the natural process of hearing but can immensely help hearing and speech improvement.
COCHLEAR IMPLANT PROS AND CONS
As every other foreign implant is introduced into the body, the pros and cons of cochlear implants are existent.
First, looking at the benefits of cochlear implants, the following can be considered the pros:
- The Hybrid Cochlear Implant
Cochlear implants are quite safe, however, there may be some risks associated with them. The risk of cochlear implants may include:
- Hearing becomes easier and almost at a normal level.
- You find it easier to pick up sounds of different types.
- You have better control of your voice after the implants.
- A better understanding of speech.
COCHLEAR IMPLANTS CANDIDATES
The eligibility of a person for a cochlear implant can be based on certain factors such as severe to profound hearing loss in both ears, hearing loss that cannot be treated using hearing aids, inadequate development of the auditory nerve or skills, no medical history or underlying disease that could impair the implant of the cochlear implant, etc.
HOW MUCH DO COCHLEAR IMPLANTS COST?
The cochlear implants cost depends majorly on the brand to be used, the age of the patient, complications during surgery, and the hospital performing the surgery.
The cochlear implant device alone costs approximately 8000 USD to 15000 USD. At anavara, we help people connect with professional doctors across the globe who are specialists with vast years of experience at an affordable and friendly cost.
PREPARATION FOR COCHLEAR IMPLANTS
When preparing for a cochlear implant, avoid taking certain medications and inform your doctor of the medications you are taking.
Avoid eating and drinking for some hours before the implant.
Your doctor will also give you guidelines on how to prepare depending on your medical record and what is suitable for your body system.
COCHLEAR IMPLANTS PROCEDURE
Before The Procedure,
You will be examined by the doctor and the extend of your hearing loss determined
Then your medical history will be examined for any underlying disease condition which could affect the cochlear implantation
You will go through some hearing tests such as an audiogram, a hearing aid trial, tests to evaluate the structures of the middle and internal ear.
You will be taken to the lab and some scans such as computerized tomography scan, x-ray, magnetic resonance imaging, etc, to see the shape of your cochlea. These tests are also done to check if there is any growth in the cochlea which could have resulted from any infection such as meningitis, as this could interfere with the cochlear implant.
You will also need to undergo a psychological test to check your ability to cope with the implant.
During The Procedure,
A cochlear implant normally lasts approximately 2hours. This procedure involves the administration of anesthesia so that you don’t feel pain during the surgery. You will be administered drugs and other fluids that will help keep you stable intravenously while your vital signs will be closely monitored.
A part of your scalp will be shaved for the implantation of the cochlear implant and an incision made behind the ear in other to access the mastoid bone and a drill is made into the inner ear. Then an electrode is placed inside and the incision is stitched back.
The cochlear implant activation will only be made when the incision is completely healed which could take about 4 weeks after the surgery
After The Procedure,
After the surgery, you will be kept in the hospital and closely observed for a day or two, while in some cases you might get discharged after some hours of close observation.
The surgery is not painful and most people can return to their normal daily activity after 2 to 3 days. You might need to learn to adapt to hearing with the implant as there might be changes in balance canal function. In adults, there might be the feeling of dizziness you will experience the surgery which could last for a week or more.
COCHLEAR IMPLANTS STIMULATION AND ACTIVATION
In other to activate the cochlear implant, your sound processor will be adjusted, the components checked to make sure they are working, and the device will be set so that you can hear to the best of your ability.
RESULT AND SUCCESS RATE OF COCHLEAR IMPLANTS
The result encountered in cochlear implant changes according to individual differences and might be influenced by some factors such as age when the hearing was lost, the time interval between hearing loss and cochlear implant. A cochlear implant is generally best for children.
A cochlear implant has a relatively high success rate compared to other surgeries and with proper and adequate adjustment to your lifestyle after the surgery, you could enjoy a beautiful life with fewer complications over the years.
What Kind Of Long-Term Maintenance Is Needed?
Since it is a device, there is a need to properly care for and maintain it, which ensures that the device is always kept in a good working condition.
Maintenance steps include:
- Bleeding and infection.
- Nerve damage could affect your sense of taste and cause facial paralysis.
- Dizziness and balance issues may arise.
- Continuous ringing in the ear.
- Fluid leaking into the brain.
- Loss of residual hearing.
- Failure of device and infection of the brain membrane.
- Changing the microphone protector at least every 3 months.
- Cleaning your sound processor regularly with a soft dry cloth.
- Removing and storing the sound processor in storage when sleeping.
- Ensuring to charge the batteries of your sound processors and always carrying spare batteries with you.
- Can a person outgrow the internal device and require a new one?
A person cannot outgrow the cochlear implant because once a person is born, the cochlear is formed and the electrode inserted is arrayed to accommodate the skull growth
- Can people with cochlear implants identify environmental noises as well as speech?
People with cochlear implants can identify environmental noises as well as speech sounds although the rate of distinguishing environmental sounds is less than their ability to recognize speech. However, will time, their ability to recognize environmental sounds will improve.
- Why are cochlear implants bad?
The cochlear implant could destroy your residual hearing, leading to infection in the ear and surrounding tissues, the device could malfunction, ringing in the ear, etc. although the surgical risk involved with cochlear implants is quite rare.
- How long does a cochlear implant last?
People with cochlear implants tend to improve in their hearing as their brain begins to adapt and relearn the stimulation pattern provided by the cochlear implant. The cochlear implant is will last the lifetime of the person but the sound processor and microphone will need to be changed periodically.
- How painful is cochlear implant surgery?
A cochlear implant is not painful since it involves general anesthesia during the procedure.