A cochlear implant also known as bionic ear is an artificial hearing device implanted surgically in the severely deaf patients. It is a neural prosthesis that electrically incites nerves inside the inner ear producing hearing sensations.
Cochlear implants perform the function of a damaged inner ear. The implant can be placed in one or both the ears based on medical condition. When placed in both ears, it significantly improves the listening ability. You can better identify sound directions and differentiate various sounds at a time.
Who can get cochlear implant?
- Have moderate to severe hearing loss in both ears
- Experience least or no benefit from hearing aids
Before a cochlear implant surgery, you would undergo various tests like audiogram, examination for abnormality in external, middle, and inner ear, MRI, CT scan etc. These tests will assess if you are a right candidate for bionic ear surgery.
How is cochlear implant surgery done?
The cochlear implant consists of two parts – Internal implant device (placed under the skin behind the ear through an implant surgery) and external sound processor (placed behind the ear and worn externally).
Performed under general anesthesia, it takes about three hours to complete. The patient gets the incision behind the ear from where the internal part of implant device is inserted into the ear. It is an outpatient procedure or maximum you may have a one-day of hospital stay.
Recovery after cochlear implant surgery
The dressing is removed next day. You do not hear immediately after the surgery. It takes about a month to be able to hear, when the doctor gives you the external component of the bionic ear. The audiologist fits and sets the required levels of implant for comfortable hearing. It takes few weeks to adjust to the new implant. You have to make three-four follow-up visits for monitoring and adjusting levels.
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