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How do I determine if I am a cochlear implant candidate?
Anyone who is hearing impaired and not receiving benefit from conventional hearing aids is a potential candidate for a cochlear implant. Currently, patients with residual (remaining) hearing are allowed to undergo implantation if their medical team feels they will experience significant improvement from a cochlear implant; one does not have to be totally deaf to receive an implant.
The following is a list of evaluations and procedures necessary to determine an individual’s cochlear implant candidacy. A team member will serve as case manager and will assist the family during the candidacy evaluations. Several trips to Vanderbilt for testing may be required to complete all the evaluations that are necessary before a decision can be made regarding candidacy. Not all evaluations listed below will be necessary for every patient. Every effort will be made to minimize the number of trips required. For children, it is recommended that both parents attend all appointments, if possible.
Audiological Evaluation: A comprehensive hearing assessment will be completed with and without the hearing aids. This may require more than one visit. It is essential that the individual brings his/her hearing aids and earmolds to the evaluation.
Sedated Auditory Brainstem Response and Otoacoustic Emissions Tests: These tests are objective measures of hearing sensitivity. Some children are sedated for this procedure.
CT Scan: A specialized x-ray to evaluate the anatomy of the hearing organ. Some children are sedated for this procedure.
Medical Examination: The otologist/otolaryngologist will take a medical history, review the CT scan, and determine if there are any medical contraindications that would prohibit the surgery.
Speech-Language Evaluation: A formal and informal assessment of the person’s communication abilities with his/her hearing aids will be evaluated. Communication goals will be discussed at this appointment.
Additional evaluations may be recommended based on the information obtained during the candidacy assessment and may include an MRI or neuropsychological testing.
A Pediatric Evaluation will also include:
Developmental/Cognitive/Psychological Evaluation: For children, formal and informal evaluations of the child’s developmental milestones and capacity to learn will be assessed. Family expectations will also be discussed. If your child has had a psychoeducational/developmental assessment, please forward the report to the cochlear implant case manager.
Educational Assessment: The child’s school will be contacted regarding educational placement, support, and the need, if any, for teacher training on cochlear implants.
Click HERE for more information on pediatric hearing services.
After all the assessments are complete, the Vanderbilt cochlear implant program team members will meet and determine if the individual is a cochlear implant candidate. If the individual is determined to be a candidate, a surgery date will be scheduled. (In case of a child, he or she will need to be enrolled and attending appropriate therapy before a surgery date is scheduled.) Approximately four to six weeks after the surgery and medically cleared, the individual will need to return to VBWC for cochlear implant programming. If the individual is not a candidate, then the individual will be contacted and alternative options will be discussed.
Once candidacy has been established, The cochlear implant surgeon will perform a complete history and physical examination and discuss the surgical procedure in detail including options and risks. The implant audiology team will discuss the device types and implant options.