A cochlear implant is a small electronic device that can help "make" sound if you have severe or total hearing loss. The implant does the job of the damaged or absent nerve cells that in a normal ear make it possible to hear. Cochlear implants can be programmed according to your specific needs and degree of hearing loss.
Cochlear implants may help people with severe or total hearing loss in both ears who do not get any benefit from hearing aids. Cochlear implants have been shown to improve a person's ability to understand speech and speak clearly. Unlike hearing aids, cochlear implants do not make sounds louder but improve how well you hear sound.
A cochlear implant consists of a:
The microphone picks up sound and sends it to the speech processor, which changes the sound to information the cochlear implant can understand. The implant then tells the nerves in the ear to send a message to the brain. The message is understood as sound.
Speech therapy will help you make the most of your cochlear implant. Training in listening, language, and speech-reading skills (paying attention to people's gestures, facial expressions, posture, and tone of voice) also help you.
Cochlear implants have a low rate of complications, which may include:
Bacterial meningitis occurs more often in children with cochlear implants than in children the same age who do not have implants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with the Food and Drug Administration recommend the following:
It is possible that a cochlear implant can be affected by a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. This could cause the implant to stop working. Before you have an MRI, make sure you tell your doctor you have a cochlear implant.
Other Works Consulted
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010). Risk of bacterial meningitis in children with cochlear implants. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/hearingloss/meningitis.html.
- Gluth MB, et al. (2012). Cochlear implants. In AK Lalwani, ed., Current Diagnosis and Treatment in Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, 3rd ed., pp. 850–860. New York: McGraw-Hill.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2006). FDA public health notification: Continued risk of bacterial meningitis in children with cochlear implants with a positioner beyond twenty-four months post-implantation. Available online: http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/Safety/AlertsandNotices/PublicHealthNotifications/UCM062104.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Charles M. Myer, III, MD - Otolaryngology|
|Last Revised||April 8, 2013|
Last Revised: April 8, 2013
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