What is a Cochlear Implant?
A cochlear implant is an electronic device that restores partial hearing to individuals with severe to profound hearing loss who do not benefit from a conventional hearing aid. It is surgically implanted in the inner ear and activated by a device worn outside the ear. Unlike a hearing aid, it does not make sound louder or clearer. Instead, the device bypasses damaged parts of the auditory system (cochlear)and directly stimulates the nerve of hearing, allowing individuals who are profoundly hearing impaired to receive sound.
How does a Cochlear Implant work?
Cochlear implants bypass damaged hair cells and convert speech and environmental sounds into electrical signals and send these signals to the hearing nerve.
A cochlear implant has two main components: an internal component that consists of a small electronic device that is surgically implanted under the skin behind the ear, connected to electrodes that are inserted inside the cochlea and an external component, usually worn behind the ear that consists of a speech processor, microphone, and battery compartment.
- Microphones on the sound processor pick up sounds and the processor converts them into digital information.
- This information is transferred through the coil to the implant just under the skin.
- The implant sends electrical signals down the electrode into the cochlea.
- The hearing nerve fibers in the cochlea pick up the signals and send them to the brain, giving the sensation of sound
Who is a Candidate for a Cochlear Implant?
- Have severe to profound hearing loss in both ears
- Have had limited benefit from hearing aids
- Have no other medical problems that would make the surgery risky
- Have a strong desire to be part of the hearing world and communicate through listening, speaking, and speechreading
When Will I Start Hearing?
About a month after surgery, the doctor places the signal processor, microphone, and implant transmitter outside your ear. This is the first time that you will hear after the surgery. You will learn how to look after the implant and how to initially listen to sound and make adjustments.
Some implants take longer to fit and require more training. You may have to make additional to the doctors office for follow up checkups and readjustment of the speech processor as needed.
What is a BAHA?
BAHA is an implantable hearing device used to treat hearing loss. The device works by directly stimulating the inner ear through the bone. BAHA is used to improve hearing in patients with chronic ear infections, congenital external auditory canal atresia (when the ear canal does not develop) or one-sided deafness who cannot benefit from regular hearing aids
How does a BAHA system work?
The system works by taking the sound from the outside and transmitting it to the inner ear through the bone. This bypasses the ear canal and the middle ear. A titanium implant is placed during a minor surgical procedure and over time integrates with the bone behind the ear. The hearing device transmits sound vibrations through the titanium implant to the skull and the inner ear – where the hearing takes place.
We have otolaryngologist hearing specialists that work in different offices. So call 281-649-7000 to schedule an appointment in a clinic nearest you to determine if you are a candidate for a Cochlear Implant or BAHA system.
Our Houston ENT & Allergy-Otology and Neurotology Surgeons
G. Walter McReynolds, M.D.
Board Certified Otolaryngologist
Memorial Southwest Office
7789 Southwest Freeway, Suite 470
Houston, Texas 77074
Mark Nichols, M.D.
Board Certified Otolaryngologist
Memorial City Office
915 Gessner, Suite 280
Houston, Texas 77024