Treatment & Care
How is cochlear implant surgery performed?
Implant surgery is performed under general anesthesia and takes three to six hours. Your child stays in the hospital one or two nights after the surgery. This can be a traumatic time, and you are encouraged to stay in your child's room during surgery and recovery.
During the surgery, the receiver/stimulator and electrode array are implanted.
An incision is made behind the ear for the surgeon to expose the area of the round window, a tiny membrane at the separation between the middle ear and the inner ear.
Then the surgeon places the receiver/stimulator in a small area on the side of the head where the bone has been drilled thinner to make a place for the receiver/stimulator to fit—outside the skull but under the skin. Your child's brain is not exposed or penetrated during the surgery.
The electrode array is inserted into your child's inner ear, and the receiver/stimulator is fixed in place over the bone. Electrical recordings are made to show that the electrodes are providing stimulation.
The skin is then surgically closed over the implant.
What are the risks of cochlear implant surgery?
The risks of anesthesia are the same as for any surgery. Surgery to the inner ear also carries the risks (although uncommon) of facial nerve paralysis, loss of taste sensation, dizziness, or ringing in the ear. The surgery does destroy any ability the individual may have had to hear with a conventional hearing aid in that ear. Bear in mind that at some point, your child may need a replacement implant.