About the risks of cochlear implantation
The potential risks of cochlear implantation include the medical ones during or after the surgery, as well as the technical ones that could arise while wearing the implant.
Risks of the surgery
The provision of a cochlear implant requires a surgery. Even though ENT surgery, after decades of practice, became a routine procedure in this field and is performed in a relatively safe part of the skull, it can still bring some risks. The anesthesiologist in charge will provide extensive information about these risks before the procedure.
The most common postoperative risks include tinnitus and dizziness in the first days after the procedure. It can very rarely come to the irritation of the skin wound, mainly due to ignoring the medical recommendations, such as washing the hair too early or removing the wound bandage. Thus, it is strongly recommended to get detailed information at the clinic about what measures are necessary before and after the surgery in order to minimize risks and avoid any unpleasant after-effects.
Implants and imaging diagnostics
Some CI users have concerns about the limitations and health risks connected to imaging diagnostics. However, when medical professionals need to get a picture of the inner life of a CI user for specific reasons, they are well prepared to do so:
All imaging procedures can be performed and are generally safe. The only thing to consider is the field strength of the MRI when this examination is necessary. All MED-EL hearing implants are MRI safe up to 1.5 Tesla, while SYNCHRONY implants are safe even up to 3 Tesla! The special design of the magnet in SYNCHRONY makes this possible. Further information on this: cochlear implants and MRI examinations
Pain while wearing audio processor
Since the implant lies completely under the skin, it is connected to the externally worn speech processor by a magnet in the transmitting coil. If your skin is very thin or if you have extremely thick hair, you will usually need a stronger magnet, so that the transmitting coil holds well and safe on your head. In rare cases, this can cause irritation of the scalp, which is not dangerous, but can lead to uncomfortable feeling. However, this problem can always be solved together with the supervising technician.
Implant damage due to the mechanical influence
Even if the implant is firmly fixed under the skin in the skull bone, it can be damaged by strong external mechanical impacts, such as knocks or falls and must be surgically replaced in the worst case. However, this happens very rarely. Of course, a serious accident cannot always be prevented but random scenarios (such as certain kinds of sports) can be avoided.
Finally, we can conclude that cochlear implantation is part of routine ENT medical procedures today and the risks can be classified as usual in all necessary surguries. Fortunately, negative medical and technical consequences are extremely rare and can be prevented, when all medical measures are followed.