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What is cochlear implant surgery?

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Quick Answer

Cochlear implant surgery involves the insertion of an electronic device to improve a person's ability to perceive sound, according to MedlinePlus. The device consists of an external part that goes behind the ear and an internal part that goes under the skin.

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Full Answer

The patient receives general anesthesia for cochlear implant surgery, explains MedlinePlus. The surgeon makes a cut behind the ear and accesses the mastoid bone with a microscope and a bone drill. He inserts an electrode array, then secures the receiver in a pocket behind the ear. After the surgery, the patient receives pain medication to help alleviate any discomfort and may also receive antibiotics to prevent infection. The attachment of the external part of the electronic device takes place after the healing of the surgical site. The patient then works with specialists such as audiologists and speech therapists to learn how to use the device.

Cochlear implant surgery is generally a safe procedure with a high chance of success, but some patients may experience difficulties with wound healing, infections and skin breakdowns, says MedlinePlus. Though it is an uncommon occurrence, the device may also fail to work in some cases. Other rare complications include nerve damage, cerebrospinal fluid leakage, meningitis, temporary dizziness and changes to the perception of taste.

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