Procedure for Cochlear Implantation


Cochlear Implantation

A cochlear implant is an electronic device surgically placed in both ears to treat the patients who are severely deaf or are suffering from tinnitus. It works on the inner ear that has been damaged. In recent times, it is also being used for acquired deafness on an experimental basis.

The difference between a cochlear implant and other hearing aids is that it sends sound signals to the brain instead of sending signals to the hair cells of the cochlea.

The Process of Hearing

The external ear receives sound and transmits the sounds via the ear drum to the three middle ear ossicles to the hair cells of the cochlea. The cochlear nerve then stimulated transmits signals to the brain which is perceived as sound .

Types of Hearing Loss

Though hearing loss is just inability to hear for the patient and his/her family, there are different types of hearing disability. Understanding these types helps in setting the right kind of expectations for recovery time and cost.

  • Auditory Processing Disorders
  • Sensorineural
  • Mixed
  • Conductive hearing loss

What Happens in the Cochlear Implantation Procedure?

The process of cochlear implantation is done under general anaesthesia. A cut is made behind the ear. The mastoid bone is opened and an electrode array is placed into the cochlea. Post that, the dressing is done. Bacterial meningitis vaccination is recommended before the procedure.

Parts of the Cochlear Implant

This procedure includes implanting an electronic medical device, which replaces the functioning of a damaged ear. The cochlear/hearing implant includes following parts:

  • Microphones which pick up sound from around
  • A sound processor, with an attached battery, is worn behind the ear that turns this sound into digital code.
  • Digital code, which is sent to the cochlear implant.
  • The digital sound is converted into electrical impulses by the cochlear implant .
  • The electrical impulses stimulate the cochlear nerve sending signals to the brain.

Advantages of Cochlear Implant

Being able to hear clearly is a happy moment for the patients. However, apart from enabling hearing cochlear implant offers many additional advantages, including

  • Better hearing properties than hearing aid
  • Better sentence understanding
  • Better focus in noisy environments
  • A healthy outlook towards life as the user can hear alarms, vehicles and music .

What is the Average Length of Stay for This Surgery?

The process of Cochlear Implantation takes about 2 hours. The patient is discharged the very same day in case there is no complication.

Indications of Cochlear Implant

The following are indications for the cochlear implant procedure :

  • Adults before becoming severely hearing impaired
  • Treating complete deafness after one year of age
  • Not benefited by other hearing aids
  • Tinnitus


The procedure should not be done under the following conditions :

  • Partial hearing loss
  • Less than 1 year of age


Complications associated with the procedure both immediate and delayed:

  • Mastoiditis
  • Otitis media 
  • Shifting of implant
  • Facial nerve injury
  • Damage to the tympanic membrane
  • Wound infections
  • Dizziness
  • Imbalance
  • Device failure


Going back to normal life may take time depending on the patient’s condition, it varies from patient to patient. The effectiveness of the implant depends on:

  • Extent and duration of hearing loss
  • The severity of hearing loss
  • The damage to the inner ear and or the nerve
  • Other medical conditions
  • The keenness of the patient to use the implant

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