What you should know
- A cochlear implant (CI) is a small device that helps improve your hearing. Normally, sounds are changed into electric signals by hair cells in your cochlea. The signals are sent through your auditory (hearing) nerve to your brain, allowing you to hear sound. The cochlea is inside your inner ear. Damage to the hair cells in the cochlea causes hearing loss.
- With a CI, you will wear a plastic ear piece with a tiny microphone. This is attached to a speech or sound box. During surgery, electrodes (wires) are put into your cochlea. An incision is made behind your ear and a receiver is put under the skin. The receiver works together with a transmitter. The transmitter is a round plastic coil that is worn outside your ear.
You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
- Parts of your ear may be damaged during your procedure. Facial nerves may also be damaged. This can cause numbness and loss of movement to parts of your face. After your procedure, you may feel dizzy. You may get an infection of the incision area. The infection can spread and cause meningitis. This is an infection of your brain and spinal cord. Your CI may not be in the right place or it could stop working. If this happens, you may need to have another surgery to fix it.
- Without treatment, your hearing problems may get worse. You may also become deaf.
Before your surgery:
- You may need to be given a pneumococcal vaccine at least 2 weeks before your surgery. A pneumococcal vaccine helps prevent you from getting a brain infection. Ask you caregiver for more information about this vaccine.
- Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
- You may need to have blood tests, hearing tests, and imaging studies done. Ask your caregiver for more information about these and other tests that you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.
- Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.
- Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.
Day of your surgery:
- Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
- Antibiotics: Right before your surgery, your caregiver will put antibiotic medicine into your IV. Antibiotics help your body kill germs that may cause meningitis. Meningitis is a serious infection in the brain and spinal cord.
- An anesthesiologist may talk to you before your surgery. This caregiver may give you medicine to make you sleepy before your procedure or surgery. Tell your caregiver if you or anyone in your family has had a problem using anesthesia in the past.
- You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
What will happen:
- You will receive anesthesia medicine to keep you asleep and free of pain during your surgery. A small amount of your hair may be shaved and your skin will be cleaned. Your caregiver will fold your outer ear inward to cover your ear opening.
- Your caregiver will cut behind your ear along your hairline. Your caregiver will then lift up a flap of skin. Your caregiver may need to remove bone to create a small space to put the receiver. The electrodes will be placed into your cochlea. Your incision will be closed with sutures.
- If you are having a CI placed in both ears, you may require another surgery to place the second CI.
After your surgery:
You will be taken to a room where you can rest until you are awake. Do not try to get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. You may then be able to go home or you may be taken to your hospital room. You will have a bandage behind your ear to keep the wound clean and dry. This will be removed the next day after your caregiver checks your wound.
Contact a caregiver if
- You cannot make it to your surgery on time.
- You get sick or have a fever.
- You have questions or concerns about your surgery.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
Learn more about Cochlear Implants (Precare)
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