Primary care doctors usually refer patients to ear, nose and throat doctors (ENT doctors or otolaryngologists) to test them to see if they are candidates for cochlear implants.
Tests often done are:
examination of external, middle, and inner ear for signs of infection or abnormality
various tests of hearing, such as an audiogram
a trial of hearing aid use to assess its potential benefit
exams to evaluate middle and inner ear structures
CT (computerized tomography) scan. This type of x-ray helps the doctor see if the cochlea has a normal shape. This scan is especially important if the patient has a history of meningitis because it helps see if there is new bone growth in the cochlea that could interfere with the insertion of the implant. This scan also may indicate which ear should be implanted.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan
psychological examination to see if the patient can cope with the implant
Can a patient hear immediately after the operation?
No. Without the external transmitter part of the implant a patient cannot hear. The clinic will give the patient the external components about a month after the implant surgery in the first programming session.
What happens during the initial programming session?
An audiologist adjusts the sound processor to fit the implanted patient, tests the patient to ensure that the adjustments are correct, determines what sounds the patient hears, and gives information on the proper care and use of the device.
What can I expect a cochlear implant to achieve in my child?
As a group, children are more adaptable and better able to learn than adults. Thus, they can benefit more from a cochlear implant. Significant hearing loss slows a child's ability to learn to talk and affects overall language development. The vocal quality and intelligibility of speech from children using cochlear implants seems to be better than from children who only have acoustic hearing aids.
How important is the active cooperation of the patient?
Extremely important. The patient's willingness to experience new acoustic sounds and cooperate in an auditory training program are critical to the degree of success with the implant. The duration and complexity of the training varies from patient to patient.
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