A cochlea is a part of the human ear, shaped liked a tube and it is hollow and usually coiled in the form of a shell of a snail. The cochlea contains the Organ of Corti, which is the sensory organ of hearing. Therefore the cochlea is an integral part of the human ear that coordinates the nerve cells within the ear to help the human hear. When a person’s cochlea is damaged and she/he is unable to hear almost nothing or absolutely nothing, then that person is given a device to make her/his cochlea work. This process is known as a cochlear implant.
A cochlear implant is a small yet complex electronic device that helps a person to hear who is basically deaf or almost nearly deaf. The device has two portions – an internal and an external one. While the former is surgically placed under the skin, the latter sits behind the ear. A cochlear implant doesn’t restore normal hearing, but it can give a deaf person a proper form of sounds that are there in the environment and help that person to hear sounds and decipher them.
A cochlear implant consists of various parts. There is a microphone to pick sound for the external environment. This sound picked by the microphone is selected and arranged accordingly by a speech processor. A transmitter and receiver are there that received sound signals from the processor and convert them into electric impulses. Lastly, there is an electrode array consisting of a group of electrodes whose function is to collect impulses from the stimulator and sending them to different parts of the auditory nerve.
A cochlear implant helps to bypass damaged portions of an ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve. Signals generated by the machine are sent to the brain via the auditory nerve, and the brain in turn recognises those signals as sounds. Hearing with the aid of this device is quite different from ordinary hearing and requires time to get used to it. But is allows people to hear speeches over the phone, understand sounds in the external environment and recognise warning signals.
A cochlear implant is generally done under the influence if anaesthesia. The procedure used most commonly to implant a mechanical cochlea into a human ear is called mastoidectomy with facial recess approach (MFRA). This is done by removal of the mastoid cells. There are various types of this surgery: Radical mastoidectomy, Canal Wall Down Mastoidectomy, Canal Wall Up Mastoidectomy, Cortical Mastoidectomy and Modified Radical Mastoidectomy. All the different types of mastoidectomy are done by removal of one or more parts of the mastoid bone in order to get the part of the cochlea where the device needs to be implanted.
This surgery takes about two hours, but may also extend up to three hours at a stretch. Before the surgery is done, the audiologist and the physician decide which ear to operate and a thin line of hair is shaved along the incision line. The operator creates cuts a section of the skull behind the ear to accept an internal receiver. Under a surgical microscope, a meticulous drilling in the mastoid bone provided access to the cochlea. A small cavity in the round window membrane allows insertion of the electrode array. The electrode array is tested previously before putting it into the purpose of hearing
Generally the ear with better understanding of speech is recommended for this surgery as residual hearing predicts better post implant performance.
Irrespective of their age or social and economic background, any person who is partially or totally deaf is eligible to take this surgery. It has been approved that even children aged 12 months are also approved to go under cochlear implantation. It is very common these days to find children with hearing problems, who after undergoing this surgery, are able to hear well and clear.
A person, who is not having any hearing problem, does not need to go under this operation. Only, a person who is severely or fully unable to hear is recommended to go for cochlear implantation.
Various types of surgery may involve certain risks during the surgery. There can be infections during the time of surgery, which is quite common in many cases. Extrusion of the implant where the scalp overlies the implant may break down and thus exposes the implant. Further surgery to cover the implant with new tissue or removal of the implant may be necessary in that situation. Also taste disturbance, mouth dryness, numbness of the ear, weakness of the face, dizziness, hematoma, meningitis or anaesthesia can occur after the surgery is performed.
Post treatment guidelines involve learning and re-learning the use of the device, as it is very different from the normal hearing aids. This may take time and would involve patience of the person who has undergone cochlear implant surgery. A person has to practice getting used to the device. Speech-language pathologists and audiologists are there to help people get into practising hearing with the aid of this implant.
It doesn’t take much time to recover from this surgery – about 1 or 2 days are enough to stay at the hospital after the process is done. As soon as the surgery is performed under the supervision of a medical personnel who is specialised in this particular field, the person suffering from hearing problems would be able to hear every sound clearly. He/she only needs some amount of time to get used to this device, and no other problem would exist any further.
The cost of cochlear implant in India starts from Rs. 5.12 lakhs and may vary according to the nature of the surgery. It may rise till Rs. 9.5 lakhs in certain cases.
The effect of the cochlear implantation is permanent. Once the surgery is performed, the people who initially suffered from this problem would get healed and no other problem regarding hearing would be faced by them in the future.
Certain people use hearing aids instead of this surgery. The surgery is quite expensive, and therefore those who cannot afford this surgery, can alternatively use the affordable hearing aids if they suffer from hearing impairment. This doesn’t require much practice to get accustomed to and many people use it.
Rs. 5,12,000 - Rs. 9,50,000
The inability to hear can be frustrating. Thankfully, children and adults with a severe hearing loss no longer have to rely on only sign language to communicate. Cochlear implants are hearing aids that can help treat loss of hearing. Unlike the other types of hearing aids available, cochlear implants do not amplify sounds but bypass the part of the ear that does not function properly and delivers sound to the auditory nerves in the form of electrical signals. In this way, it does not restore hearing or cure the loss of hearing but allows severely deaf people to hear sounds. Also, unlike other hearing aids, surgery is required to insert the cochlear implant.
Components of a Cochlear Implant
Cochlear implants can be worn by children and adults. They can be implanted in one ear or both ears at the same time. There are two components to a cochlear implant: the internal component and the external component.
How does a cochlear implant work?
The microphone behind the patient’s ear picks up sounds, amplifies them and transmits them to the speech processor. The processor then analyses the sounds and digitizes them. These signals are then forwarded to the transmitter which codes them and sends them to the internal receiver through magnetic coupling. The receiver converts the codes into electrical pulses and dispatches them to the electrodes. These electrodes are inserted seep into the inner ear. When they receive the signals, they stimulate the auditory nerve. These nerves then interpret the signals as sounds.
A cochlear implant is an electronic device that is used to restore hearing ability in people who suffer from hearing loss due to inner ear damage. Unlike hearing aids which amplify sounds so people with hearing loss are better able to perceive them, cochlear implants directly transmit electronic sound signals to the auditory nerve. They work by compensating for damaged cochlea, the part of inner ear that converts sound waves into neural impulses which are perceived by the brain.
Cochlear implants offer a multitude of benefits to people experiencing hearing loss, especially infants and children with severe hearing loss who are just starting to process language and speech. Some of these benefits are:
CochlearConsult a doctor to get a clear assessment of whether you would be an eligible candidate for a cochlear implant and what to expect from the procedure. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
You should consider undertaking a cochlear implant in case you are experiencing hearing loss or are turning deaf. This is a small device that gets planted in your ear through a surgical procedure. It sends impulses to your auditory nerves directly, as a result of which sound signals get carried to your brain. Cochlear implants may not make you hear normally again, but help you with different sounds, and in the recognition of the different sounds around you like alarms, telephones, and door bells.
How it works?
Benefits of cochlear implant
The major benefits of a cochlear implant are as follows:
If you are suffering from severe hearing loss, a cochlear implant may be able to change your life for the better. However, the results are not the same for all, and vary among people. It is possible for some people to benefit more from such an implant than others.
In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
Traditionally, people resort to hearing aids in order to take care of their auditory problems. The perception of hearing reduces as age progresses and people find it absolutely necessary to come up with ways by which they can improve their hearing. However, cochlear implants have become extremely popular because of the method that it uses in comparison to the traditional methods of hearing aids.
What is a cochlear implant?
A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device that replaces the function of the damaged inner ear. Unlike hearing aids, which make sounds louder, cochlear implants bypass the damaged hair cells of the inner ear (cochlea) to provide sound signals to the brain.
Who can they help?
The cochlear implant technology can help people who:
Many people have cochlear devices in both ears (bilateral). Listening with two ears can improve your ability to identify the direction of sound and separate the sounds you want to hear from those you don’t.
What are the benefits of a cochlear implant?
Many adults with cochlear implants report that they:
How is a cochlear implant different from a hearing aid?
A cochlear implant is very different from a hearing aid and is appropriate for individuals for whom hearing aids fail to provide benefit. A hearing aid makes sounds louder. Sound still travels through all the portions of the ear (outer ear, middle ear, inner ear) to the hearing nerve. A cochlear implant bypasses these structures and directly stimulates the hearing nerve with electrical energy. Because hearing aids amplify sounds and rely on the hearing system to convey the message, people with severe to profound hearing loss may be able to hear, but not understand speech well. The main objective of a cochlear implant is to improve speech understanding in quiet. Clarity with a cochlear implant is usually better than a hearing aid because the implant does not make sounds louder but delivers them to the hearing nerve.
There are a number of symptoms, which people should be looking out for before concluding that they have a hearing disorder:
If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult an ENT specialist.
While most noise is just in the background for us, loud noises, either in small spurts or prolonged exposure, can cause hearing loss. This has been happening more frequently as the levels of noise in an industrialized society go further up.
Noise induced hearing loss explained
Loud noises may damage the sensitive structure of your ear, which process the sound waves into information. They eventually become nonfunctional, resulting in a loss of hearing in that range. If exposure to loud noises continues, then this might extend to the entire range of hearing and may cause total hearing loss.
What may cause noise induced hearing loss?
Some of the scenarios which may cause noise induced hearing loss are as follows:
1. Listening to music on high volume: If you constantly listen to music or watch movies at your home on very loud levels, then it may result in noise induced hearing loss. In fact, listening to music or watching movies with headphones in your ears is one of the leading causes for hearing loss. Headphones have deceptively loud levels and may result in damaged hearing overtime.
2. Noise of household tools: Household tools such as drills, mixers, grinders, mowers, and saws can expose you to loud levels of noise. Even a quick exposure for a few seconds could temporarily damage your hearing.
3. Occupational problems: Occupations such as construction, factory work and military that require the use of power tools on a constant basis can also cause hearing loss. The sound from the resulting friction might damage your hearing very quickly. Explosions and impacts are also causes of hearing loss in the military and law enforcement departments.
Prevention and treatment
Treatment: It is difficult to treat hearing loss as in most cases; it may be permanent, except sudden shocks, when your hearing might come back to normal. The only treatments for hearing loss are hearing aids or cochlear implants which can restore hearing partially.
Prevention: Prevention is the best method to avoid hearing loss and in most cases, you should wear ear protection such as mufflers or sound level reduction devices to protect your hearing. Also, practice listening to music, watching TV or movies at lower levels, especially if you are on the headphones. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a ent-specialist.