There are several types of cochlear implants. Working with the doctor, adults and children choose the cochlear implant to best fit their needs. The team provides explanations of the different options available for internal/external components, speech processors, etc. While there are different kinds of implants, research shows that the each provides the overall same affect. If desired, patients can talk with patients who currently have a cochlear implant to discuss personal experience with each device.
Cochlear implant surgery is done in an operating room and takes about an hour. Patients are asleep, with anesthesia, for the surgery.
- The surgeon makes a cut behind the ear to open up the mastoid bone.
- The surgeon identifies the cochlea and inserts the implant electrodes into the cochlea.
- The surgeon places an electronic device, called the receiver, under the skin behind the ear.
- The incisions are then closed and the patient goes to the recovery area.
- Typically, patients go home the same day of surgery.
When leaving the hospital, patients are taught how to care for the incisions. They will also be given instructions about how to wash the scalp and head, and how to shower. A follow-up appointment is made for 2-4 weeks later to examine the incisions and remove the stitches.
Patients will need some time to heal after the initial surgery before the implant process is completed. This lets the swelling go down and the implant to fit correctly. About 2-4 weeks after the surgery, the external parts of the cochlear implant will be added. These include a microphone and speech processor. Then, the implant is programmed and activated. The external parts work with the internal part of the implant.
Patients will also learn the basics of using and caring for the implant. Most likely, patients will have several visits over a few days to adjust the device. Further fine-tuning may take place over several months. Learning to use a cochlear implant is a gradual process. But with commitment, patients experience improved quality of life.