A Cochlear Implant is a medical treatment with the help of an electronic device to cure the damaged parts of the inner ear, which makes the person intensely deaf. Normally, Cochlear Implant is a safe option to treat hearing issues and provide a sense of sound to the person. The procedure involves placing one portion above the ear while the other one is surgically inserted under the skin.
The procedure uses several devices that includes:
A microphone that picks up sound from the surroundings
A transmitter or receiver which receives the sound signal and convert them into electrical impulses
A speech processor that organizes the sound picked by microphone from the environment
A group of electrodes that gathers the impulses and sends them to different areas of auditory nerve.
A Cochlear Implant doesn’t actually restore the normal hearing, but it sure gives a person with hearing issues a better representation of sound that helps him/her understand speech. It can help people with mild to profound hearing loss in one or both ears and people who doesn’t get the desired benefits from hearing aids.
How does a cochlear implant work ?
A sound processor containing a battery is placed behind the ear to capture the sound and convert it into digital code, which transfers the code through a coil in the implant. The cochlear Implant then converts the code into electrical impulses and sends them to the cochlea (inner ear) through electrode array. The electrodes then stimulate the hearing nerve, which again sends signals to brain where they are read as sound.
Even though Cochlear Implant surgery is quite safe, like any other operation, it also comes with few complications. These risks include infection, bleeding and medication side effects along with others which are as follows:
- Damage to nerve, which may alter your sense of sound or cause weakness in your face
- Complete hearing loss
- Tinnitus (Ringing sensation)
- Leakage around the brain
- Meningitis, a kind of infection causing in children with severe risks
- Discomfort in ear
- Removal of the device or implant may be needed if the device failed
Post operative care
Avoid contact with water to the damaged ear for a couple of weeks.
Sponge bath is needed after the first week of treatment.
Nutritional diet is necessary to reduce the pain and irritation.
Oral antibiotics, consulted by the doctor, are needed to prevent infection.
Avoid activities that endanger the ear in any way.
Any kind of irritation around the ear requires a physician’s visit.
The patient needs to visit the doctor within six weeks of the operation.
Cost of a cochlear implant varies between US$17000- US$21000