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Surgical Implants

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Updated: 4/11/2007 5:47 pm
Surgical implants are a viable option for people whose hearing loss is so severe that hearing aids offer little, if any, assistance. The most common type of surgical implant is the cochlear (coke-lee-AR)implant. It's inserted in the region of the ear called the cochlea (coke-lee-AH), where external sounds are picked up and transmitted to the brain. The implant utilizes electrical impulses to stimulate nerve fibers that may have been damaged by injury, illness or long-term exposure to loud noise. One or more electrodes are implanted inside or outside the cochlea. And then a small receiver is implanted behind the ear or in the lower part of the chest. An implanted wire connects the electrodes to the receiver. The patient wears an external transmitter over the receiver, which is connected to a sound processor and a microphone. Surgical implants, like the cochlear implant, may be more effective than hearing aids, because they receive and pass electrical signals. Most hearing aids merely receive sound signals. In a study of cochlear-implant users, one-fourth of the patients could repeat two-thirds of simple words in unrehearsed sentences without lip-reading. Most surgical implants can't restore normal hearing, but, they make verbal communication more audible and distinguishable. For more information about surgical implants, contact an audiologist or an ear, nose and throat physician.
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