A cochlear implant (CI) is a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing in both ears. Cochlear implants bypass the normal hearing process; they have a microphone and some electronics that reside outside the skin, generally behind the ear, which transmits a signal to an array of electrodes placed in the cochlea, which stimulate the cochlear nerve.
The procedure in which the device is implanted is usually done under general anesthesia. Risks of the procedures includemastoiditis, otitis media (acute or with effusion), shifting of the implanted device requiring a second procedure, damage to the facial nerve, damage to the chorda tympani, and wound infections. People may experience problems with dizziness and balance for up to a few months after the procedure; these problems generally resolve, but for people over 70, they tend not to.
Evidence is of low to moderate quality that when CIs are implanted in both ears at the same time, they improve hearing in noisy places for people with severe loss of hearing but other measures are mixed. Implanting the CIs sequentially instead of simultaneously makes things worse or causes no change. There is some evidence that implanting CIs to improve hearing, may also improve tinnitus but there is some risk that it may cause people who never had tinnitus to get it.
There is some controversy around the devices; much of the strongest objection to cochlear implants has come from the Deaf community, which consists largely of pre-lingually deaf people whose first language is a sign language. For some in the Deaf community, cochlear implants are an affront to their culture, which as they view it, is a minority threatened by the hearing majority.
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Nyu langone medical center / new york university school of medicine. "early evidence suggests hybrid cochlear implants may benefit millions with common form of hearing loss: multicenter study shows that device leads to major improvements in hearing, speech recognition." sciencedaily. Sciencedaily, 28 july 2015. Www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150728120202.htm .
Bajwa ss, kulshrestha a. The cochlear implantation surgery: a review of anesthetic considerations and implications. Int j health allied sci [serial online] 2013 [cited 2016 may 26];2:225-9. Available from: http://www.ijhas.in/text.asp?2013/2/4/225/126698