Implants in Children: Ethics and Choices
Most of the other complications
or unexpected outcomes cited by parents were fairly minor and usually
disappeared in a day or two. Some of the children experienced nausea, and in one
or two cases postsurgical problems appeared to be exacerbated because, in this
era of managed care, the hospital was in a rush to discharge the patient. Some
parents were not completely prepared for what would happen after the surgery or
what their child would look like.
The scar, the actual incision, is
so much bigger, there is so much more hair that went, than I ever imagined.
Mother of a 9-year-old girl implanted in 1994
Most parents, however, were surprised at how quickly their
child bounced back after the surgery. Some children were outside playing the
next day and others returned to school within a few days after the surgery.
Most of the parents said that the surgery went smoothly and
that all of the electrodes were successfully inserted in the cochlea. In the GRI
survey, 95% of the respondents said that the electrodes were successfully
inserted. Over time, however, some of the electrodes may stop working, either
because they fail internally or because unpredictable interference among them
can make it difficult for the user to interpret sound. About a fifth of the
respondents in the GRI study said that some of the inserted electrodes were
inactive, either through hardware failure or voluntary shut off. Another 10%
said they were not sure whether or not any electrodes were inactive.
Concerning this issue, the GRI survey asked parents if their child’s “device (internal or processing components)” ever had to be “upgraded or replaced.” Virtually all of the respondents said that some upgrading or replacement was necessary. The vast majority of these responses focused on upgrading the external components, or even replacing cords that had been broken or lost, rather than replacing the internal equipment.