Deafness and cochlear implant
Deafness is defined as complete loss of hearing, while hearing impairment is defined as partial loss of hearing in one or both ears. It may occur at any age from birth onwards. Deafness may lead to speech impairment. Deafness occurs due a variety of reasons such as newborn and childhood illnesses, age related deafness, exposure to drugs, toxins or loud noise or from inherited disorders.
Contemporary technology has revolutionised diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss, especially with modern treatment modalities such as cochlear implants.
A dynamic specialist team led by reputed ENT specialists has made Columbia Asia Hospitals the destination of choice for parents keen to get cochlear implants for their hearing impaired children.
Columbia Asia Hospitals have state-of-the-art technology, with an expert team of specialists who are not only highly skilled and well-trained but follow international protocols and practice evidence-based medicine. We also work closely with paediatricians and professionals working with specially abled children.
The services from evaluation to proper selection of the treatment modality (cochlear implant) are done in an atmosphere of empathy and understanding.
Anatomy of the ear
Ear is the organ which aids hearing and balance. The outer ear collects the sound and amplifies it through the middle ear. The inner ear is hollow and is filled with fluid and is lined by a sensory epithelium studded with microscopic hair cells, which are mechano receptors. These receptors release a chemical neuro transmitter when stimulated. In this way the sound is transformed into nerve impulses.
Causes of hearing loss
Hearing loss may be partial or total and may occur due to:
- Babies born after a high-risk pregnancy
- Babies in neonatal ICU at birth for low oxygen, jaundice, infections etc.
- Babies conceived in a consanguineous marriage
- Exposure to noise of high intensity
- Chronic ailments like diabetes, hypertension heart disease etc.
- Illness like measles, meningitis, mumps, etc.
- Otitis media, especially in children
- Foetal alcohol syndrome
- Neurological disorders
- Some medicines
At Columbia Asia Hospital, we mandatorily screen all newborns for deafness and educate parents for follow-up if there are any concerns about hearing or speech.
- Immunisation of the mother against rubella to reduce congenital infections
- Immunisation of baby against H. influenzae and S. pneumonia to reduce cases of otitis media
- Avoiding or protection against loud noise exposure
A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device that provides sound perception through direct electrical stimulation of the hearing nerve, bypassing the inner ear- the most common culprit of hearing loss.
A cochlear implant is comprised of two parts – an internal device and an external device. The internal device is surgically implanted under the skin and comprises of a receiver, a magnet and a bundle of fine wires, the electrode array. The external device includes the sound processor, a cable and a microphone-all housed in an earpiece. The sound processor analyses incoming sounds from the microphone and converts those sounds into patterns of electrical current. The current is carried along the cable and delivered across the skin by radio wave transmission to a receiver implanted under the skin. The receiver carries the current to an electrode array, which has been implanted into the cochlea, the portion of the inner ear that contains hearing nerve fibres. The current stimulates fibres of the auditory nerve results in the perception of sound.
The ENT surgeon trained in cochlear implants first places a receiver under the skin behind the ear through a small incision. The receiver is connected to the electrodes, which is put into the cochlea in the inner ear. This is a day-care procedure. After 2 weeks, a microphone is placed behind the ear and is connected to the processor.
Cochlear implants can help patients with severe to profound sensori-neural hearing loss in both ears that cannot benefit adequately from the use of hearing aids. People of all ages can qualify. The ideal candidate has hearing loss of short duration.Children born with deafness, an early implantation is preferred so that they may experience speech sounds in time to begin learning language, before the age of 2-3.
Advantages of a cochlear implant
- May be able to hear speech at near normal levels
- May be able to understand speech without lip reading
- Easier to converse on phones
- Better control over own voice to communicate with others
Cochlear implant surgery is relatively safe. Possible complications include:
- Bleeding, infections and reaction to medication as occurs with any surgery
- A nerve injury that changes sense of taste
- Facial nerve damage
- Ringing in the ears
- Failure of the device or infected device
- Meningitis in rare cases
Why Columbia Asia
- The hospital has highly skilled and experienced ENT consultants and audiologists to diagnose and treat deafness.
- Contemporary infrastructure with state-of-the-art audiology facilities
- Excellent follow-up services