Cochlear implantation: a cochlear implant is a small electronic device that assists people in hearing. It may be employed for individuals who are deaf or extremely hard of hearing. A cochlear implant is not the same as a hearing aid because it is surgically implanted and functions differently. There are many different types of devices but they generally consist of several similar parts. One part of the device is surgically implanted into the temporal bone (the bone around the ear). It consists of a receiver-stimulator, which accepts, decodes, and then transmits an electrical signal to the brain.
The second part of the cochlear implant is an external apparatus comprising a microphone/receiver, a speech processor, and an antenna. This part of the implant receives the sound, converts the sounds into an electrical signal, and delivers it to the internal part of the cochlear implant.
Cochlear implants enable deaf individuals to receive and process sounds and speech. To some degree, they are devices that enable deaf individuals to "hear." Nonetheless, it should be noted that these devices do not re-establish normal hearing - they are tools that facilitate the processing of sound and speech input and transmittal thereof to the brain.
The criteria employed to select suitable candidates for cochlear implants vary over time - as both technology changes, and our comprehension of the brain`s auditory (hearing) pathways is enhanced.
Both children and adults are candidates for implantation. They may be deaf from birth or become deaf after learning how to speak. Children as young as a year old are currently candidates for this surgical procedure. Despite the fact that adult and pediatric criteria are a bit different, they are based on comparable guidelines.
Surgical insertion of a cochlear implant is conducted with the patient fully asleep. An incision is created behind the ear. A microscope and a bone drill are then employed to open the bone, enabling the insertion of the internal portion of the implant.
The electrode array is then passed into the cochlea (inner ear). The receiver is inserted into a "well" created behind the ear to help keep it secure, and to ascertain that it is sufficiently proximate to the skin to facilitate transmission of electrical information from the external part of the device.
Subsequent to surgery, there will be stitches behind the ear, and you may be able to feel the receiver in its "well" behind the ear. The external part of the device will be inserted about 3-4 weeks post-surgery, to allow the incision sufficient time to heal.