DefinitionA cochlear implant is an electronic device that is implanted during surgery. It helps provide hearing to people who have a certain type of hearing loss. This type of hearing loss is usually caused by damage or a defect in the inner ear. The implants can directly stimulate the auditory nerve to send information to the brain.Cochlear implants have three parts:
- Speech processor—The speech processor looks like a long, narrow calculator. It is worn behind the ear or on a belt. It increases sound, converts it into digital signals, and sends these signals to the transmitter.
- Transmitter—The transmitter is a headphone that is worn behind the ear. It receives electrical signals from the speech processor and sends them through the skin to the receiver.
- Receiver—The receiver is the part that is implanted. It is a magnetic disk about the size of a quarter. It is placed under the skin behind one ear. A wire that runs from the receiver to an electrode is placed in the inner ear, where it stimulates the nerves of the cochlea.
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Reasons for ProcedureCochlear implants provide a heightened sense of sound for adults and children with profound hearing loss. They are designed for people whose hearing does not improve with surgical correction or the use of a hearing aid. Cochlear implants will not restore or create normal hearing.
Possible ComplicationsProblems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
- Damage to nearby nerves
- Problems with balance
- Emotional stress caused by having higher expectations for the technology
- Poor quality of hearing following the surgery
- Previous surgery
- Previous ear infections
- Abnormal inner ear anatomy