Cochlear is a spiral shaped pocket in the inner ear. It has nerve ends, which are crucial for hearing, known as cochlear nerves. A damage in the cochlear nerve can lead to partial or complete hearing loss. This damage may also be present from birth.
Cochlear implant is an option for individuals who have suffered a cochlear problem and hearing aids cannot help them anymore. It can help in improving the hearing capacity along with understanding of speech.
What is a cochlear implant?
A cochlear implant is a very small and complex instrument that stimulates the cochlear nerve electronically. A cochlear implant comprises an external implant and an internal implant.
The external implant is used right behind the ear. It receives the sound with the aid of a microphone. The sound is then processed and transferred to the internal implant via transmission.
The internal plant is incorporated behind the ear under the skin through a surgery. A tiny electrode and a thin wire is led to cochlea. This wire transfers the signal to the cochlear nerve. The cochlear nerve then transmits signals to the brain to generate a hearing sensation.
Who needs a cochlear implant? And why?
Adults and children who have suffered hearing loss need cochlear implants. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the USA approved cochlear implants in adults in the mid 1980s for hearing loss. The use of cochlear implants in children was approved later in the 2000s. A cochlear implant can be executed in children after 12 months of age. It also helps children to develop language and speech skills followed by therapy.
When do you need to see a doctor?
If children do not respond to sounds, parents must search and visit cochlear implant doctors in Mumbai or ENT surgeons in Chembur for consultation.
How is the procedure conducted?
A cochlear implant is usually performed at a registered hospital or a clinic. The steps include:
An ENT surgeon starts with general anesthesia.
The ENT surgeon then proceeds to make a small incision behind the ear and opens the mastoid bone.
The facial nerves are then identified and an opening is created between them to reach the cochlea.
An electronic device or receiver is placed under the skin behind the ear.
The receiver is secured.
Then incisions are closed by the ENT surgeon.
The patient is kept under observation for a minimum of 2 hours before discharge.
What are the risks?
- Swelling in the ear
- Numbness around the ear
- Facial nerve injury
- Spinal fluid leakage
- Ringing sound in the ear
- Dry mouth
Cochlear implants are more beneficial than hearing aids. A cochlear implant and a hearing aid are very different from each other. Whereas hearing aids magnify sound, cochlear implants directly stimulate the auditory nerve. Cochlear implants also need rehabilitation therapy and training to provide best hearing outcomes.