A cochlear implant is an electronic device adapted to the ear, which can allow hearing to people who are deeply deaf or hearing impaired. The implant consists of an internal component implanted with surgery, and of an external component behind the ear. It allows to hear the sounds in a way that does not correspond to the ‘’normal’’ auditory signals but, that can help to better understand a conversation or to recognize the warning signals.
The implant is composed of two parts: one is internal the other is external. The external part is behind the ear and the internal part is inserted with surgery in the ear. These two components consist of a microphone, which detects sounds, a vocal processor, a transceiver and an array of electrodes.
Together, these components detect the external sounds, treating them and interpreting them into words in order to transmit the impulses to the auditory nerve. It provides patients with sounds through stimulating the nerves of the inner ear.
The implant differs from a hearing aid, in that a hearing aid amplifies sounds whereas an implant allows to detect and interpret the sounds.
After the implant is entirely installed, the patients undergo a hearing and communication training to maximize the results of their implant.
Before the surgery, the doctor will perform a physical examination of the ear and hearing. During this examination, the doctor will examine the physical state of the ear and will be interested in the reaction of the patient to certain kinds of sounds.
Hearing aids can be tested to determine the benefits for the patient. As part of the assessment, a computed tomography of the ear can be made, as well as an MRI.
The doctor makes an incision behind the ear, and places the receiver in the incision. The electrodes are attached to the cochlear itself.
The procedure can take up to two hours.