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Audiology Surgical Solutions

Not all types of hearing loss are best treated with conventional hearing aids. For some patients, surgery is the best option to restore hearing.

Cochlear Implants

A cochlear implant is an implanted device designed for patients who typically have moderate to profound hearing loss and no longer benefit from hearing aids. The function of this device is to replace the damaged portions of the inner ear that are responsible for converting sound vibrations into electrical impulses to the brain.

The cochlear implant system contains two sections — the external processor and the internal implant. The external processor is worn behind the ear similar to a hearing aid. This processor picks up sound through a sophisticated microphone and converts the sound into a digital signal. This signal is transmitted to the internal implant through a transmission coil placed over the internal implant.

The internal implant receives the digital signals and converts them to electrical energy. This electrical energy is delivered to the hearing nerve and bypasses the damaged cochlear hair cells. This delivers the perception of sound directly to the hearing nerve.

If you are a candidate for a cochlear implant, you will undergo a series of tests by an audiologist and an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist) to evaluate your appropriateness for the implant. Audiology testing includes a complete hearing evaluation and a measurement of speech perception ability. A CT scan will help determine your eligibility, and other tests can determine which ear is most suitable for implantation.

A few weeks after implantation, an audiologist activates the implant. This is an historic occasion as it is the first time you hear sounds via the implant. Follow-up care consists of appointments every two to four weeks for the first few months, then an average of one appointment every year.

Bone-Anchored Cochlear Stimulators

Bone-anchored cochlear stimulators provide a hearing solution for several types of hearing loss: malformations of the external ear, middle-ear hearing loss, or deafness only in one ear. Loyola performs more of these implantation surgeries than any other medical center in Illinois.

In the surgery, a small titanium post is implanted in the skull behind the ear, and then an external processor is attached to it. This device changes sound to a vibration, which then is conveyed across your skull to the better hearing ear. The processor sends the signal to your non-functioning ear as well as from your normal hearing ear. This enables you to experience the sensation of hearing from your non-hearing side.

An evaluation with an otolaryngologist and a current hearing test will be done to determine if you are a candidate for the bone-anchored cochlear stimulator. Other tests may be selected by the physician. A demonstration with a simulator will allow you to hear what speech will sound like via the bone-anchored hearing device.

Following implant surgery, you will meet with your physician every two to four weeks until the activation appointment two to six months after surgery. Once the device is activated, you will be able to hear immediately.  Follow-up care requires you to clean the implant site daily. Additional appointments are set annually as needed.

Fully Implanted Hearing Aids

Loyola is a leader in offering the newest generation of implantable hearing aids. The Esteem® hearing aid, the only FDA-approved completely implantable hearing device, is placed in the middle ear during surgery, with no visible parts. These devices are for patients with moderate-to-severe hearing loss who have worn hearing aids but are not happy with their sound quality or performance.  Candidates can have no history of outer or middle ear abnormalities or surgery.

The system uses the natural ear to pick up sound. The device senses vibrations of the eardrum and turns them into electrical signals. These signals are sent to a sound processor, which adjusts the signals to meet the needs of the user. The improved signals then are sent to a device that mechanically stimulates a tiny bone called the stapes. The stapes, in turn, stimulates the cochlea.

A Loyola surgeon was among the first in the Chicago area to implant the device, and Loyola has provided more of these devices to patients than any other center in the Midwest. The device has had a profound, life-changing effect on patients who used it.

Surgical monitoring

When a Loyola patient has a surgery involving the auditory nerve, our audiologists will be present, monitoring the surgery to help preserve the patient’s hearing. A Loyola audiologist will help the surgeon by checking the time it takes for nerves to respond to auditory stimulation.

Audiology Surgical Solutions Specialists