Cochlear Implants: Patient's Hearing Restored | News | Loyola Medicine
Monday, November 28, 2016

Patient's Hearing Is Restored Thanks to Cochlear Implant at Loyola

doctor talking to patient

MAYWOOD, IL – Due to a childhood bout with the flu, Julia Conkin suffered progressive hearing loss that started in her left ear and continued to her right ear.

”I couldn’t hear conversations or even listen to music without the use of a hearing aid, and due to my worsening condition, hearing aids weren’t even working well," Ms. Conkin said. 

Ms. Conkin consulted with the multidisciplinary otolaryngology and audiology team at Loyola Medicine.

“Julia’s hearing was so bad she had to rely on sign language and that severely limited the number of people she could communicate with,” said Loyola audiologist Adriana Russ, AuD. “She came to Loyola to see if she was a candidate for a cochlear implant.”

Matt Kircher, MD, an ear, nose and throat surgeon, implanted a cochlear implant in a one-hour outpatient surgery. “Julia had suffered from really bad hearing for a very long time and was at the end of her rope and looking for the next step,” said Dr. Kircher. "A cochlear implant is a device usually used in patients like Julia who have failed hearing aids.” 

Watch Ms. Conkin's story here.

Unlike a traditional hearing aid, a cochlear implant does not make sound louder or clearer; rather it bypasses the damaged parts of the auditory system and stimulates the hearing nerve, allowing sound to be received.

The cochlear implant system contains two parts: the external processor and the internal implant. The external processor is worn behind the ear and includes a speech processor, a microphone and a battery compartment. The internal implant is surgically placed under the skin behind the ear. These two parts work together to allow for the perception of sound. 

Dr. Kircher has performed hundreds of cochlear implants. He makes a small incision behind the ear, exposing the cochlea. Then, an opening is made in the cochlea and the electrodes for the implant are inserted. The internal implant is then placed beneath the skin. 

A few weeks after implantation, Dr. Kircher and the team place the external processor, microphone and implant transmitter. A Loyola audiologist activates the implant. 

“With Julia, the expectations for hearing improvement were modest but the results were spectacular,” said Russ.

Ms. Conkin calls her cochlear implant a life-changer. "I noticed almost immediately after my implant was activated that I could hear things I had not heard for years, like music and conversations at gatherings,” she said. “It was beautiful to hear other people.”

Loyola Medicine is nationally recognized for its expertise in diagnosing and treating a broad range of ear, nose and throat conditions and providing integrated services for optimal patient care. 

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 94 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 133,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.