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Cochlear Implantation

COCHLEAR IMPLANTATION (CI)

A cochlear implant (CI) is a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is acutely deaf or severely hard of hearing in both ears.

CI bypasses the normal hearing process. It has a set of  microphone and some electronics that reside outside the skin i.e. generally behind the ear that transmits a signal to an array of electrodes placed in the cochlea, which stimulate the cochlear nerve.

The device is implanted usually under general anaesthesia. Certain risks of CI include mastoiditis, otitis media, shifting of the implanted device requiring a revision procedure, damage to the facial nerve, chorda tympani, and other wound infections. People may often experience dizziness and imbalance for initial few months which generally resolve later.

WHO SHOULD GET A COCHLEAR IMPLANT?

  • patients with severe to profound hearing loss in both ears
  • loss of hearing after a person has  already learned spoken and language skills
  • delimited help from other hearing aids
  • ruling out of  any medical problems that may make surgery risky
  • a strong desire to hear better and willingness to join intensive rehabilitative speech therapy programmes

Children can get the devices starting at age of 1. Most of the kids who are diagnosed with significant hearing loss as babies get the CI as soon as possible as it exposes children to sound during the critical period when they are in learning of  speech and language mode. The device also can help older children who lose their hearing after they’ve learned to talk.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF A COCHLEAR IMPLANT?

The results aren't the same for everyone. Some patients might benefit more than the rest.

  • be able to hear speech at a nearly normal level.
  • be able to understand speech without lip reading.
  • easier to talk on the phone and hear the television or listen to music  
  • can pick up on different types of sounds, including soft, medium, and loud ones.
  • can better control your own voice so that it is easier for others to understand you.

WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES AND RISKS?

  • problems can include bleeding, infections
  • side effects from the pre-surgery anaesthesia
  • nerve injury that may change your sense of taste
  • nerve damage that may cause weakness or paralysis in your face
  • dizziness or balance disorders
  • loss of the hearing that were left with
  • ringing in your ears (tinnitus)
  • leakage of the fluid around the brain
  • device doesn’t work. Gets infected that may require it to be removed and replaced
  • meningitis, a rare but serious complication.

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