The patient undergoes routine ENT examination, followed by hearing testing, which may consist of audiometry, otoacoustic emissions, or auditory brainstem response tests. If the hearing tests indicate a severe-to-profound hearing loss, a radiological evaluation with computed tomography and occasionally magnetic resonance imaging is ordered for the assessment of surgical feasibility. If the patient is an implant candidate, routine preoperative testing is carried out before the procedure.
2) Implant Surgery
The surgical procedure takes around two hours and is carried out under general anesthetic. The surgeon makes an insertion behind the ear in order to place the cochlear implant under the skin. Next, the implant receiver is attached and the electrode array is carefully inserted into the cochlea. Before completing surgery, the implant is checked in the operating room to ensure that it is working properly and first measurements are made.
Following surgery, healing takes three to five weeks. At the end of this period, a small scar is visible behind the ear. This is normally covered by hair. During this time, the patient can take part in normal activities, but he/she will not be able to hear until the external part of the system is connected.
4) Attaching the external part
To be able to hear sound, the sound processor needs to be attached. This is done after the recovery process. Using dedicated fitting software, the audiologist adapts the sound processor to the patient’s hearing needs, and the settings for each electrode are adjusted to make hearing clear and comfortable. The process varies for each individual, but it takes some time for the brain to adapt to this new way of hearing. Children will require support from their families and others during this process. Once the sound processor settings are considered stable, an annual check-up is sufficient for fine-tuning the sound processor.