Cochlear Implant Surgery

Gainesville Cochlear Implant Surgery

Since the modern cochlear implant was approved by the FDA in 1984, this device has brought hope and hearing to many hearing impaired people. At Gainesville’s Accent ENT, we evaluate patients who are deaf or severely hard of hearing for cochlear implant surgery and – if the patient is found to be a candidate for an implant – we perform the surgery and help guide patients through the entire process.
What is a Cochlear Implant?

The cochlear implant is the evolution of hearing aid technology, and owes its existence to research that began in the 1950’s. The implant contains external and internal parts that work together to facilitate hearing. Externally, the implant consists of a processor and microphone, as well as a transmitter. The internal portion is made up of a receiver and a system of electrodes. The electrodes release currents which are processed by the auditory nerve. The result is a simulation of actual hearing, although recipients do not experience sound in the way those without hearing impairment do. With work and training, however, cochlear implant recipients can experience a close enough approximation to function as a hearing individual in everyday life.

Who is a Candidate for a Cochlear Implant?

Unfortunately, those with certain types of hearing loss – classified as sensorineural hearing loss – don’t receive much, if any, benefit from cochlear implants. These patients tend to respond well to traditional hearing aids, however. Since the auditory nerve facilitates cochlear implant functionality, this nerve must be healthy. The patient must also be in good enough physical condition to undergo surgery. Beyond these medical considerations, there are other important details. Cochlear implant candidates are those with profound or complete hearing loss, who have lived without their sense of hearing. For older teens and adults, patience, strong communication skills and a willingness to learn and adjust are vital to successful cochlear implant surgery. For children and infants – who are included among candidates for this device – a strong support system and access to speech and language therapy following implantation are vital. The final consideration, of course, is a desire to join the hearing world, which not all who suffer hearing loss share.

Cochlear Implant Surgery Overview

If you are a candidate for a cochlear implant and elect to undergo the implantation procedure, be prepared to be patient and put some time in after your surgery. Your implant itself will not even be activated for up to four weeks. As for the procedure itself, it is performed under general anesthesia, and can take anywhere from one to five hours depending on the patient and the specifics of the case. Your Florida otologist will make an incision behind your ear and use a drill to create a space in the bone at the back of your skull. This space is where the internal receiver will be placed. A second space is created in the inner ear, where the electrodes are placed in close proximity to the auditory nerve. As with any surgery, there are potential side effects, including nerve damage to the face. In a small amount of cases, the device itself may fail. For most patients, however, the next step following cochlear implant surgery is to recover and wait until it is time for the implant to be activated.

Cochlear Implant Activation and Long-Term Prognosis

Your wait for cochlear implant activation may be as short as a week or up to four weeks, with the decision depending on your age, the speed at which you recover from surgery, and other factors as determined by your Gainesville otologist. Activation itself is facilitated by installing the final piece of the implant: a magnet that connects the internal and external portions. After that point, the patient takes over, learning to process and interpret sound in this innovative way. Most adult patients undergo several months of training with speech and hearing specialists, while younger patients may remain in therapy for several years. The most important components at this stage of the process come from the patient’s end, and include a willingness to put in time and effort and a strong support system, which will include your Gainesville otologist and the rest of the staff here at Accent.

Even nearly three decades after the first FDA approval, cochlear implant surgery remains one of the most innovative developments in hearing assistance. If you are considering a cochlear implant and live in Gainesville, Lake City, Ocala and surrounding areas, contact Accent ENT to schedule an appointment with a surgeon experienced in cochlear implant surgery.