Cochlear Implant Surgery

Cochlear Implant Surgery

Cochlear Implant Surgery
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(Ear Surgery, Cochlear Surgical Implant Procedure)

If a person has serious hearing loss, a cochlear implant may be needed. A cochlear implant is usually mistaken for hearing aid. A hearing aid amplifies sounds. It is most beneficial for a person who has some hearing loss. But a cochlear implant can assist a person with very little or no hearing at all.

A cochlear implant, which is a very small electronic device has two parts. One part is placed behind the ear. It collects sounds with a microphone and then processes the sound and transmits it to the other part of the implant. The other part is placed through the skin and implanted in the inner ear during a surgery. A thin wire and small electrodes leads to the cochlea, which is a fraction of the inner ear. The thin wire sends signals to the auditory nerve which sends sound impulses to the brain. A cochlear implant basically gives a person a sense of sounds. Though it doesn't restore hearing to normal, it can help a person understand speech and noises in the environment.

How can a Cochlear Implant help?

How cochlear implants assistance varies from person to person. Some people can hear many sounds while some will have no change in hearing. A person may be able to:

Recognize different sounds, such as footsteps, a door closing, a telephone ringing

Comprehend speech without lip reading, or be helped with lip reading

Understand voices over the phone

Watch TV

Hear music

Important things to know

Before going for a cochlear implant, it's important to understand certain facts. These include:

A cochlear implant will require a period of training and therapy after the operation. During this time, you will get to learn how to care for the implant. You will also have aural rehabilitation which will help to improve your use of the implant. The amount of time you need for aural rehab is greatly dependent on your age and your hearing before surgery.

Cochlear implants do not repair a person's hearing to normal. And in some people, it may not help with hearing at all.

You may lose the rest of your natural hearing in the ear where the implant is positioned.

You may be required to use new or recharged batteries every day.

You will be required to remove the external part of the implant when bathing or swimming

The implant may irritate your skin. In some cases, it may be required to be removed.

Static electricity may damage a cochlear implant. You will need to be very careful around computer and TV screens, synthetic fabrics, carpeting, and other things that make static electricity.

An implant can set off security systems, for example metal detectors. Implants are usually affected by cell phones and radio transmitters and they must be turned off when taking off and landing in an aircraft.

You may not be able to have some medical diagnosis or treatments which include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and ionic radiation therapy.

The implant can get damaged during an accident or while involved in sports. Or, the implant may fail. Repairing the implant or replacing a damaged part can be costly. In some cases, a new surgery may be required to replace the implant.

Risks of the procedure

Risks of cochlear implant surgery include:



Infection in the region where the implant is positioned

Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)

Dizziness or vertigo

Numbness around the ear

Taste disturbances

Leakage of the fluid in the cochlea region

Leakage of spinal fluid

Injury to the facial nerve, which can lead to movement problems in the face

Infection of the membrane that protectes the brain (meningitis)

Persistent inflammation around the implant (reparative granuloma)

Risks of general anesthesia

Need for removal of implant because of an infection

There may be other risks, depending on your previous medical condition. Be sure to share any concerns with your doctor before the procedure.                 

Before the surgery

A cochlear implant is not a right approach for everyone. To find out if an implant is right step for you:

You will be required to meet with hearing and speech specialists. These include an audiologist, otologist, and speech-language pathologist.

You will be required to meet with a psychologist or other counselor.

You will have hearing screening and physical exams.

You may have imaging tests to see the structure of your ear. These may include X-rays and MRI. These can help illustrate how well a cochlear implant will work in your ear.

Your doctor may require other tests or preparation, depending on your medical history.

During the surgery

Cochlear implant surgery is performed in a hospital or clinic. The surgery lasts two to four hours and you may go home the same day or you may need to stay in the facility overnight. You are given medication (general anesthesia) to make you sleep during the operation. The surgeon makes an opening behind the ear to open up the mastoid bone. Then the surgeon makes a small opening in the cochlea and then inserts the implant electrodes into the cochlea and will afterwards place an electronic device called the receiver under the skin behind the ear. The incisions are then closed.

After the surgery

About 4 to 6 weeks after the surgery, the external parts of the cochlear implant will be added which include a microphone and speech processor. This is where the implant will be programmed and activated. The external parts functions with the internal part of the implant. You will also be taught the basics of using and caring for the implant. You maybe requiredto return for several visits over a few days for initial adjustments. Further fine-tuning may be required over several months.

Learning to use a cochlear implant is a gradual procedure. You may need visits with speech-language pathologists, audiologists, counselors, and teachers. But with commitment, you can experience an enhanced quality of life with a cochlear implant. 

Disclaimer: The information provided herein is for patient general knowledge only and should not be used during any medical emergency, for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Duplication for personal and commercial use must be authorized in writing by

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