Cochlear implants

Cochlear implants

What is a cochlear implant?

A cochlear implant is a small electronic device that is surgically implanted into the inner ear to help individuals with severe hearing loss or deafness improve their ability to hear and understand speech. It is typically recommended for individuals who do not benefit from hearing aids or have profound hearing loss that cannot be corrected with other treatments.

implantable hearing solutions - cochlear implants

The components of a cochlear implant

The cochlear implant consists of two main parts – an external processor worn behind the ear or on the skull and an internal implant surgically placed under the skin behind the ear and connected to electrodes inserted into the cochlea.

How does a cochlear implant work?

The external processor picks up sound waves from the environment and converts them into electrical signals, which are then sent to the internal implant. The electrodes in the cochlea stimulate the auditory nerve, bypassing the damaged hair cells in the inner ear and sending signals to the brain, where they are perceived as

Cochlear implants can significantly improve the ability of individuals with profound hearing loss to understand speech and communicate effectively. They can also help individuals better enjoy music and other sounds in their environment.

Cochlear implants may not be suitable for everyone

While cochlear implants are highly effective for many people, they are unsuitable for some patients. Candidates for cochlear implantation undergo a thorough evaluation by a team of audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and otolaryngologists to determine if they are likely to benefit from the procedure. Some individuals may require additional therapy and rehabilitation to learn how to interpret the new sound
signals created by the implant.

Dr Hofmeyr's experience in cochlear implantation

Dr Hofmeyr has performed over 400 cochlear implantations, utilising all three available implants on the South African market. He was the first to implant an Advanced Bionics system in South Africa. He was also the first surgeon to implant an advanced Bionics and a MEDEl implant in Namibia. He is particularly interested in
complicated cochlear implantation, including combining other neurological procedures such as vestibular schwannoma removal, labyrinthectomy and endolymphatic sac decompression and shunt. Dr Hofmeyr has a particular interest in the vestibular function of patients with cochlear implantation and has authored a research project on the alterations of cochlear implantation published by Frontiers of Neurology. Dr Hofmeyr is a Cape Hearing Implant (CHi) implant team member based in Cape Town.

To determine whether you are a candidate for a cochlear implantation

If you want to know whether you are a candite for cochlear implantation, you can book a consultation with Dr Hofmeyr. You can also forward your hearing test results to Dr Hofmeyr. Based on the findings, you may be immediately excluded as a cochlear implant candidate. Alternatively, Dr Hofmeyr may request more information and further testing before consulting with

Cochlear implants and medical aids

Some medical aids pay for cochlear implantation. You should contact your medical aid to enquire about the benefits of your cochlear implant. Some medical aids may consider ex gratia requests.

The rest of the assessment process

Besides consulting with Dr Hofmeyr, you must see the cochlear implant mapping  audiologist for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and cone beam CT scan of your brain and inner ear. Any MRI scan older than one year would have to be repeated.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

All children and some adults would need to see the cochlear implant speech therapist for assessment and future planning of speech therapy.

Sometimes, you may also have to see other medical specialists before making a final decision.

Otoplan assessment

Otoplan is a specialised software program designed to fit and optimise cochlear implants. Your CT scans will be sent for Otoplan assessment to determine your cochlea's most appropriate cochlear implant electrode array.

Otoplan software
Otoplan software

Discussing your case and determining final candidacy

A monthly multidisciplinary meeting will address your case about Cape hearing implants. The meeting is attended by ENT specialists, audiologists, speech therapists and, in some cases, other specialists. Dr Hofmeyr’s rooms will notify you of the outcome.

Submission of your documentation

When you are accepted as a cochlear implant candidate, you must submit medical documentation to your medical aid for approval. This documentation includes a surgical motivation from Dr Hofmeyr, motivation from the cochlear implant audiologist, a surgical quotation and a quotation for the cochlear implant. Dr Hofmeyr’s rooms will assist you with the process.