A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted electronic device that stimulates the hearing nerve to provide a sense of sound in people who are severely hard of hearing or profoundly deaf. A person whose unaided hearing thresholds fall into the red part of the audiogram or whose speech discrimination is less than 60% may be eligible for an implant.
The cochlear implant has a surgically implanted internal component and an external device is worn on the outside of the head.
A cochlear implant operation takes 2-3 hours under a general anaesthetic. An incision will be placed behind the ear and some bone behind the ear will be drilled out to enable placement of the implant. The incision is closed with dissolving sutures and covered with Steri-Strips and a head bandage is placed overnight. The patient is usually discharged from hospital to the audiologist to have the implant switched on the next day.
The head bandage will be removed the next day. You will have a switch on time. You will receive an appointment to see the surgeon in 1-2 weeks. Most patients require 1 to 2 weeks off work. Do not drive or operate machinery within 24 hours of an anaesthetic.
You will be given a prescription for pain relief before you leave the hospital. It will be uncomfortable for the first 1 to 2 weeks then usually subsides. You may also receive antibiotics and an antinausea medication.
You can wash your hair after 2 days. Pat the Steri-Strips and the area behind the ear, or use a hairdryer, to gently dry it but do not rub it for 2 weeks. The steristrips will start to lift off after 1 to 2 weeks and can then be removed. There are no stitches to remove.
The outside of the ear may feel numb for a while. Your ear may feel blocked with some popping and crackling, as well as tinnitus. Occasionally you may feel slightly unsteady for a week after the operation. Sometimes there will be a little blood and fluid into the back of the nose for several days.
If you have any concerns after your procedure, please contact the following:
- Your Surgeon
- Auckland ENT Group on 09 522 2226
- Your Family Doctor / GP
- After hours – 24 Hour Medical Centre or Emergency Department
In case of an emergency – dial 111 for an ambulance.
For more information on any of our procedures.