Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Surgery Date!!!

We finally have a surgery date for Natalie’s Cochlear Implant surgery...JANUARY 4, 2011. Which means... 3-4 weeks post surgery she will be able to hear for the very first time. Very exciting!

So, what is a cochlear implant? I think sometimes I get so used to telling people she is having one done, I just expect everyone to understand what they are. Or, sometimes she will be wearing her hearing aids and people think those are the implants. Here are a few pictures to describe a little about what a CI is.

In surgery, they will place an implant under the skin behind her ear (see diagram - implant is the gray square labelled #2). The implant has a tiny tube with different electrodes that will be threaded into the cochlea and bypass the hair cells that are not working  (hair cells are what help us hear). It will then connect to the cochlear nerve.

We get to choose from 3 different companies which implant we wanted and we chose the brand Cochlear. You can check them out here. There are also some cute accessories that she can wear with them.

This is a picture of the actual implant. I am still amazed how big it is and how small Natalie is. This is the thinnest one out there right now. The magnet is the grey circle piece. If she were to need an MRI down the road, the magnet would have to be surgically removed prior to the MRI. The square piece is the computerized piece. From what we are told, she may need 2-3 surgeries over her life to revise the implant.

3-4 weeks post surgery is when we will “turn on” the device and she can hear. She will wear this processor on the external part of her ear and the coil transmitter (the round part) “connects” with a magnet to the implant and will send information to the implant via radio frequency.  There are many ways to wear the outer piece, but this is the most traditional including a rechargeable battery pack which is nice(also.. many colors to choose from; we will probably go with a neutral color.)
 Here is an example of what it will look like once it is on. (picture taken from internet) Once she gets more hair, it will help cover it better.

Natalie has had several hearing tests done with her hearing aids and is not making any progress. We knew since about 6 weeks that she had severe/profound hearing loss but we didn’t know how profound. The tests have shown us that a cochlear implant is the way to go in order for her to hear and we know now that hearing aids are not helping her. I previously posted about Natalie’s hearing loss and the audiogram so you can read here about them. We will get very used to audiograms once she gets activated.

We have a great team of audiologists and a wonderful doctor who meet  every Friday to discuss CI (cochlear implant) patients. After reviewing Natalie’s audiograms they recommended doing a bilateral simultaneous surgery. In a lot of cases, the doctor will do surgery on one ear and then wait about 6 months later to do the 2nd side. There are pros and cons to each, but we have decided to go ahead with their recommendation. The surgery will be longer, but we are thankful she will only have to have it done the one time.

In the meantime, we will continue to use hearing aids on her until her surgery date. She may be getting some acoustic signal that we are not aware of and any stimulation to the cochlear nerve is important. Plus, she needs to get used to having something on her ears as well. But, there are many times we like to play and cuddle without the aids on... and that is ok too!


melanie herway
SO exciting!!!  That'll be here before you know it!  (Thanks to the busyness of the holidays :)
Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - 10:44 AM
Melissa - you sound like a doctor yourself with all of your knowledge.  I really appreciated this so I can better explain what a cochlear implant is to other people (especially Grandma Aubert).  the picture of Natalie is one of my many favorites.
Thursday, December 2, 2010 - 09:33 AM

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