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Cochlear Implants

What are cochlear implants?

For children and adults with severe hearing loss, a cochlear implant can help. It is surgically embedded to stimulate the hearing nerve to receive sound.

Early detection of hearing loss in children is extremely important. The sooner that treatment is provided, the better quality of life your child will have, as delays could affect social and speech development. At Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare (JHAH), our team of experts will provide a hearing assessment for your child if you are worried.

Cochlear implant procedure

A cochlear implant is a small electronic device that stimulates the cochlear (hearing) nerve. The implant has external and internal parts, and the external part sits behind the ear and picks up sounds with a microphone. It then processes the sound and transmits it to the internal part of the implant.

A cochlear implant can help those with hearing loss restore or improve their ability to hear and understand speech. A cochlear implant is different to a hearing aid, which makes sounds louder but may not significantly improve speech understanding. If you or a loved one struggle to understand speech, even with appropriately fitted hearing aids, a cochlear implant should be considered. The cochlear implant can significantly increase hearing ability in children once the device is tuned correctly and they have commenced rehabilitation therapy.

What to expect from our cochlear implant services

Cochlear implant surgery is carried out in a hospital or clinic. The surgery lasts two to four hours, and you will be given a general anesthetic. Your surgeon starts by implanting electrodes into the cochlea. An electronic device called the receiver is then placed under the skin behind the ear, securing it to the skull. The incisions are then closed, and you will be moved into our recovery area and watched closely.

Preparing for treatment 

You will be invited to a clinic, where you will receive an in-depth assessment with a certified JHAH audiologist and speech-language pathologist. You may also see a consultant surgeon to discuss your care.

Post-treatment and preventive care

After the operation, we will teach you how to care for the incisions and how to change dressings and care for your stitches. You may wash your ear as normal after a day or two. A follow-up appointment is made for about one week later, or at activation, to inspect the incisions and remove the stitches. Although cochlear implant surgery is a safe procedure, it is possible you may experience pain, drainage from your ear, or fever after the surgery. If this happens, do let your doctor know.

You will have time to heal after the initial surgery, before the implant device is turned on or activated. About four to six weeks after the surgery, the external parts of the cochlear implant will be added. These include a microphone and speech processor. The speech processor is then programmed and activated, which causes the internal device to stimulate the cochlear nerve in response to sounds.

You will be taught how to use and look after the implant, and may need to return several times for adjustments. Further fine-tuning will take place over several months. Learning to use a cochlear implant takes time and may require additional help from speech-language pathologists and audiologists.

 

Our patients say it best

The JHAH staff were friendly and helpful during the cochlear implant, which has already dramatically improved the quality of my son's life and future. Thank you.

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