Following the assessment process, the cochlear implant team will meet to decide if you would benefit from a cochlear implant.
You will be told about the decision and if we are going to offer an implant you will be given a date for surgery and an appointment to see the surgeon and sign the consent form.
Prior to the operation, you will have a pre-anaesthetic assessment appointment where the nurse will check if you are healthy and fit for surgery. During this appointment you will be given instructions about preparing for your hospital stay. Surgery takes place at The James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough and the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle.
What happens on the day of the operation?
You will be admitted to the ward usually on the morning of the operation. It may be that your bed is not ready until after the operation. The surgeon, a nurse and the anaesthetist will visit you before your surgery. They will ask questions to check and double check all of your information is correct.
The length of an operation for one implant is usually one and a half to three hours. However, a longer surgical time does not necessarily mean there is something wrong – it is just taking longer.
After you are asleep, a small strip of hair behind your ear will be shaved. During the operation, a flap of skin is lifted and a small well is made in the bone behind the ear for the internal device. A small hole is made into the cochlea (hearing organ) to allow the electrodes to pass through.
The surgeon will choose the most appropriate way of closing the skin at the time. Before you leave the theatre, the implant will be tested electrically.
What happens after the operation?
When you return from the operating theatre, you will usually have an intravenous drip in your hand and a pressure bandage on your head. The drip will be removed when the time is right. The bandage creates pressure over the area and helps with healing, it will stay in place overnight.
Initially, you will be sleepy, but most patients are up and about within a couple of hours. You will be given antibiotics to prevent any infection. You may feel sick or be sick after the operation; this is usually due to the anaesthetic.
When the pressure bandage is removed, the surgical site will be visible. The surgical site is usually closed with stitches and a special type of ‘glue’. The stitches are dissolvable and do not need to be specially removed. They do not look pretty, but they do an excellent job of closing the skin to produce a neat scar in the long term.
Before you leave hospital, your head will be x-rayed to check the position of the implant. Providing you are fit and well, you will usually be allowed home one or two days after surgery.
You may wash your hair after the first 48 hours, being careful to keep the site dry.
The scar will be checked by the surgeon 1 week after surgery. There may be some of the glue remaining over the scar. You are encouraged to remove this leading up to your switch-on appointment by gently wiping with clean water.
Things to bring to hospital:
- Pyjamas and clothes with buttons down the front as it will be difficult to pass clothes over your head after your operation.
- Money for food (meals are provided whilst you are an in-patient) and car-parking.
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust would like your feedback. If you wish to share your experience about your care and treatment or on behalf of a patient, please contact The Patient Experience Department who will advise you on how best to do this.
This service is based at The James Cook University Hospital but also covers the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, our community hospitals and community health services.