Updated: Nov 3
Ideally, cochlear implant surgery is a once-in-a-lifetime surgery. When people say the cochlear implant lifespan is a lifetime, they mean the internally implanted receiver-stimulator must work for a lifetime. But anomalies do exist.
So, how long do cochlear implants precisely work for?
Official Warranty on Cochlear Implants
The cochlear implant manufacturing companies give a ten-year replacement guarantee on the internal component, i.e., receiver-stimulator surgically planted inside the head conditionally, as per the author. The outer piece, i.e., the sound processor, has a 3-year warranty only. For accidental damages, these warranties do not apply.
The lifespan of the sound processor is lesser than the receiver-stimulator. The sound processor can cost somewhere between 3,00,000 INR to 7,00,000INR. These costs translate to approximately 3800USD to 8800USD. Read our article on Cochlear Implants Cost for more information.
Suppose there is a manufacturing flaw or wear and tear within the warranty period. In that case, the company will replace the cochlear implant as per Dr. K. R. Meghanadh’s knowledge. But, this is very rare, and the author has thankfully never witnessed this personally in his 600 cases.
Author’s experience with Cochlear Implants (600 surgeries)
Nevertheless, Dr. K. R. Meghanadh has done 600 cochlear implant surgeries in the last 20 years, and almost all the cochlear implants are still working perfectly. Out of the 600 surgeries, only one patient required revision surgery after 12 years. The cause for this exception is unidentified. Guesses are there could be a petty fall or an accident sabotaging the receiver-stimulator. If a manufacturing defect or non-adherence to SOPs of cochlear implant surgery led to a faulty surgical procedure, it should have stopped working earlier and not functioned for over a decade flawlessly. In other circumstances, individuals who got surgery, even before the particular patient, haven’t reached out for revision surgery.
Dr. K. R. Meghanadh added that the currently available components’ quality is excellent, irrespective of the brand and the model. Although he claims these should work for a lifetime, he adds that exact numbers or statistics to prove the same are not available till now. Getting data with a good number of case studies will take time.
Non-compliance to SOPs, i.e., Standard Operating Procedure, can affect the lifespan and the efficiency of Cochlear Implants. Refer to this section of the Cochlear implant article to understand why adherence to SOPs is essential.