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  • Writer's pictureDr. Koralla Raja Meghanadh

Cochlear implant lifespan and warranties

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

Cochlear implant lifespan, warranty, lifetime, longevity

The cochlear implant lifespan is a crucial aspect of cochlear implant surgery. Ideally, this procedure is a once-in-a-lifetime surgery, and the internally implanted receiver-stimulator is expected to work for a lifetime. However, it is not uncommon for anomalies to occur, raising the question of how long precisely cochlear implants can remain effective.



Official Warranty on Cochlear Implants


The implant has two parts, so the cochlear implant warranty is divided into 2 parts. The surgically implanted internal component has a 10-year replacement guarantee, and the outer piece has a 3-year warranty. The internal component is a receiver-stimulator surgically planted inside the head conditionally. The outer piece is the sound processor. 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 7,00,000 INR. These costs translate from approximately 3800 USD to 8800 USD. Read our article on Cochlear Implants Cost for more information.

Suppose a manufacturing flaw or wear and tear is 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.


Exceptions for Cochlear implant surgery failure

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. Suppose a manufacturing defect or non-adherence to SOPs of cochlear implant surgery led to a faulty surgical procedure. In that case, 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 is not available till now. Getting data with a good number of case studies will take time.

NOTE

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.



FAQS

What happens if a cochlear implant is damaged?

The company will replace the implant if a manufacturing flaw or wear and tear happen within the warranty period. But if the damage is accidental, then these warranties do not apply. Usually, the internal implant has a 10-year replacement guarantee, and the outer piece has a 3-year warranty.


How long can cochlear implants last?

Ideally, cochlear implant surgery is a one-time procedure, and the implanted receiver-stimulator is designed to function for a person's entire lifetime. Nonetheless, unforeseen issues can arise. The internal component, which is surgically implanted, comes with a 10-year warranty for replacement, while a 3-year warranty covers the external component. If any defects in manufacturing or wear and tear occur within these warranty periods, the company will provide a replacement for the cochlear implant. It's important to note that these warranties do not cover accidental damages.

According to Dr. K. R. Meghanadh's experience, there shouldn't be any concerns about the implant's durability over a lifetime. However, concrete statistics confirming a lifetime's longevity are not currently available. Based on current experiences, problems usually arise within the initial one or two years, often due to manufacturing defects or non-adherence to SOPs during cochlear implant surgery. Dr. Meghanadh emphasizes that all cochlear implants exhibit excellent quality regardless of the model or brand and should endure a lifetime. We must wait a few additional years to obtain official statistics, as this discovery is still relatively recent.

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