What is a cochlear implant and how does it work

Video What is a cochlear implant and how does it work

summary

A cochlear implant is an electronic device that improves hearing. may be an option for people who have severe hearing loss from damage to the inner ear and cannot hear well with hearing aids.

Unlike hearing aids, which amplify sound, a cochlear implant bypasses the damaged parts of the ear to send sound signals to the auditory (auditory) nerve.

Cochlear implants use a sound processor that is placed behind the ear. the processor captures the sound signals and sends them to a receiver implanted under the skin behind the ear. the receiver sends the signals to electrodes implanted in the snail-shaped inner ear (cochlea).

The signals stimulate the auditory nerve, which then directs the signals to the brain. the brain interprets those signals as sounds, although these sounds will not be like natural hearing.

It takes time and training to learn how to interpret the signals received from a cochlear implant. Within 3 to 6 months of use, most people with cochlear implants make significant gains in understanding speech.

why is it done

Cochlear implants can improve hearing in people with severe hearing loss who are no longer helped by hearing aids. cochlear implants can improve your communication and quality of life.

Cochlear implants can be placed in one ear (unilateral) or in both ears (bilateral). adults usually have a cochlear implant and a hearing aid at first. adults may then progress to two cochlear implants as hearing loss progresses in the hearing aid ear. Cochlear implants are often placed in both ears at the same time in children with bilateral severe hearing loss, especially infants and children who are learning to speak and process language.

Adults of any age and children 6 to 12 months of age can benefit from cochlear implants.

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people with cochlear implants report improvements:

  • ability to hear speech without the need for visual cues such as lip reading
  • recognition of everyday environmental sounds
  • ability to hear in a noisy environment
  • ability to find where sounds are coming from
  • ability to listen to television programs, music and telephone conversations
  • symptoms of ringing or buzzing (tinnitus) in the implanted ear
  • To be eligible for a cochlear implant, you must have:

    • hearing loss that interrupts spoken communication
    • limited benefit of hearing aids as determined by specialized hearing tests
    • motivation to participate in hearing rehabilitation and be part of the hearing world
    • realistic expectations of what cochlear implants can and cannot do for hearing
    • risks

      expected results

      Cochlear implant surgery is very safe.

      Risks of cochlear implantation may include:

      • residual hearing loss. In some individuals, implantation of the device may result in loss of any remaining, unclear, natural hearing in the implanted ear.
      • inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meningitis). meningitis can occur after cochlear implant surgery. Vaccines to reduce the risk of meningitis are usually given to adults and children before implantation. the risk of this very rare complication is less than 1 in 1000 people with cochlear implants.
      • device failure. Surgery may sometimes be needed to repair or replace a defective internal device. this occurs in less than 5% of people over many years.
      • Complications are rare and may include:

        • bleeding
        • facial paralysis
        • infection at the site of surgery
        • device infection
        • balancing issues
        • dizziness
        • flavor problems
        • new or worsening ear noise (tinnitus)
        • Cerebrospinal fluid leak
        • how do you prepare

          Cochlear implant surgery is performed under general anesthesia. this means that you or your child will be in a sleep state during the procedure. Pre-surgery instructions may include:

          • stop taking certain medications or supplements for a certain time
          • avoid eating or drinking for a certain time
          • Your surgeon will give you specific instructions to help you prepare.

            what you can expect

            before the procedure

            You or your child will need a detailed medical evaluation to determine if cochlear implants are a good option. Health care providers will perform an evaluation that may include:

            • hearing, speech, and sometimes balance tests
            • physical exam to assess health and anatomy
            • magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography of the skull to assess the condition of the cochlea and the structure of the inner ear
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              You will work with an audiologist ⸺ a healthcare professional trained in the evaluation and rehabilitation of hearing loss and related problems ⸺ and your surgeon to determine which type of cochlear implant is best for your needs. all cochlear implants include internal and external parts. options include:

              • an internal cochlear implant that has an external unit that attaches to the side of the head. the external unit combines a speech processor, microphone and transmitter in one device. it can be loaded when needed.
              • an internal cochlear implant with an external sound processor that fits behind the ear. the transmitter attaches to the side of the head.
              • Research is underway to develop a fully implemented system with no external drive.

                during the procedure

                Your surgeon will make a small cut (incision) behind your ear and make a small hole in the part of the skull bone (mastoid) where the internal device rests.

                Next, your surgeon will create a small opening in the cochlea to insert the electrode of the internal device. the skin incision is closed with sutures so that the internal device is under the skin.

                after the procedure

                For a short time, you or your child may experience:

                • pressure or discomfort on the ear with the implanted device
                • dizziness or nausea
                • Most people feel well enough to go home the day of surgery.

                  an audiologist will turn on the device.

                  activation

                  To activate the cochlear implant, an audiologist:

                  • adjust the sound processor to fit you or your child
                  • check the cochlear implant components to make sure they are working
                  • determine what sounds you or your child hear
                  • provide you with information on the proper care and use of the device
                  • set the device so you can hear the best you can
                  • rehabilitation

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                    Rehabilitation consists of training the brain to understand the sounds heard through the cochlear implant. speech and everyday environmental noises will sound different than what you remember.

                    Your brain needs time to recognize the meaning of these sounds. this process is continuous and is best achieved by using the speech processor continuously during waking hours.

                    Regular lifelong follow-up visits to review and program the device and perform hearing tests can help you get the most benefit from your cochlear implants.

                    results

                    The results of cochlear implant surgery vary from person to person. Factors that can affect cochlear implant outcomes include the age at which hearing was lost and the time between hearing loss and cochlear implant surgery.

                    For children, the best results are generally obtained by receiving a cochlear implant at a young age if they are born with a significant hearing loss.

                    For adults, the best outcomes are generally associated with a shorter period of profound hearing loss before cochlear implantation. adults with little or no experience with sound tend to benefit less from cochlear implants, although both groups of adults generally improve after cochlear implantation.

                    some expected results may include:

                    • Clearer hearing. Many people who meet the hearing criteria for a cochlear implant may eventually achieve clearer hearing with the use of the device.
                    • improvement of tinnitus. Although ear noise (tinnitus) is not the primary reason for receiving a cochlear implant, the cochlear implant may partially suppress or improve the severity of tinnitus during use. can rarely worsen the severity of tinnitus.
                    • clinical trials

                      Explore Mayo Clinic’s studies of tests and procedures to help prevent, detect, treat or manage conditions.

Content Creator Zaid Butt joined Silsala-e-Azeemia in 2004 as student of spirituality. Mr. Zahid Butt is an IT professional, his expertise include “Web/Graphic Designer, GUI, Visualizer and Web Developer” PH: +92-3217244554

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