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November 4, 2004

Cochlear implantation

From: Basque - Usurbil,Spain - Nov 4, 2004


Keywords : Medicine

Contact :
José Ramón Unzué Fernández
Clínica Universitaria. Universidad de Navarra
(+34) 948-296.497 / 948-255.400

Cochlear implantation

Cochlear implantation in six-month-old children assures the development of language in a hearing child, stated Dr. Manuel Manrique, specialist in the Ear, Nose &Throat Department at the Navarre University Hospital, speaking at the VIII Cochlear Implantation Course, held recently at the University's Faculty of Medicine.

The seminars were aimed at ENT specialists, audiologists, teachers and other professionals working in the field of auditory deficiency. The course was attended by some two hundred persons of which 24 were national and foreign professors, such as Drs. Norbert Dillier and Bernard Fraysse.

The University Hospital is a pioneer centre in the insertion of cochlear implants and is currently celebrating its 15th anniversary of its implantation programme.


Cochlear Implantation is the substitution of hearing by a system that electrically stimulates the auditory nerve. It is suitable for profoundly deaf persons – those who have suffered total hearing loss or a severe loss that cannot be rectified by use of a hearing aid. Approximately one in a thousand children are born with a profound deafness that can be treated with this procedure.

In recent years, techniques have evolved and, with that, information and reliability of results. Currently, cochlear implants are being inserted in six-month-old children and it has been observed that, the earlier the operation, the better the results. In fact, implantation at this age assures language development similar to that of a hearing child. In order to provide suitable early treatment, it is necessary to carry out systematic screening of all newly born by testing with acoustic otoemissions, in order to be able to detect and categorise the auditory loss as early as possible.

Another of the advances produced recently was bilateral cochlear implants. This is suitable for profound deafness affecting both ears, always assuming there are no anatomical malformations. On restoring auditory stimulation in both ears, greater discrimination in a noise environment, an enhanced capacity to locate sounds and stimulation of the auditory canal is achieved.

The development of a careful surgical technique has enabled the insertion of the cochlear implant without losing remaining hearing in 90% of the cases. These results open many therapeutic possibilities for other types of auditory deficiencies. Thus, the techniques that have been developed as a result of these implants will help to administer medication within the cochlea enabling the restoring of hearing in cases of less profound hearing loss. This is one of the lines of research being undertaken at our experimental laboratory.


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