Cochlear Implant Program | Your Visit | Preparing for Surgery & Post-Op Care

Preparing for cochlear implant surgery

Once your child has been approved to receive a cochlear implant, you will be given a pre-operative appointment. The appointment typically takes place approximately two or three weeks before surgery and, typically, includes a consultation with the anesthesiologist and additional blood work.

Also, prior to surgery, your child will need to have updated immunizations, including one for meningitis. Our program coordinator will work with your family to ensure that your child has what is needed to proceed with surgery.

A psychologist will meet with you and your child to help you find ways to feel comfortable and positive about the surgery. For a young child, playing with dolls, head bandages and doctors’ masks, for example, will help prepare your child for the surgery. Play dates or emails with other children who already have cochlear implants will help provide familiar role models.

The cochlear implant team will give your child a backpack of age-appropriate items and games to take to the hospital. Your child will be encouraged to express questions and concerns. Brothers and sisters often have their own anxieties about the surgery, and their questions should be addressed so that they can feel positive and supportive about the implant.

Learn more about what happens during cochlear implant surgery.

Post-operative care

Skin Care

Your child may have a sponge bath at home within the first five days. Your child can shower or have a bath after day five. Do not soak or submerge your child’s head during bathing or swimming for two weeks.

Your child will have a Steri-Strip® (and possibly a pressure dressing) on the incision site when the dressing is removed. Steri-Strips® are narrow pieces of special tape that keep the edges of the wound together. They do not need to be reapplied after discharge. If they begin to peel off, they should be trimmed with clean scissors and never peeled back like a bandage. If they or the stitches beneath them are causing discomfort, this will be addressed by your child's doctor at their follow-up appointment.

Your child will be prescribed seven days of oral antibiotics to prevent infection at the surgical site and should take all of the medicine. If your child experiences side effects from the medication, including rash, stomach upset, diarrhea, etc., you should call the Otolaryngology office for guidance about changing the dosing, duration or type of antibiotic.

Activity

Once at home, your child does not need to stay in bed. They can walk and play quietly. Avoid touching incision sites and avoid any trauma or jolt to the ear.

All strenuous activity should be avoided for three to four weeks. Your child should avoid rough play, including gym and contact sports and avoid any trauma to the ear. Do not let your child lift anything heavier than 10 pounds until approved by your child's doctor.

Your child’s doctor or nurse will let you know when your child is able to return to day care or school.

Emotional Recovery

After the operation, your child may be tired or irritable. It is important that they rest. Healing for each child is different. In time — usually about one month — your child will return to their usual mood and activity level.

Appointment Follow-up

Your child will need to see their doctor within two to six weeks of the operation. This varies from surgeon to surgeon.

Within three to four weeks after the surgery, your child will visit their surgeon to check the incision and make sure they are healthy and healed enough to activate the cochlear implant.

Please confirm the follow-up appointment with the Cochlear Implant Team coordinator at 781-216-2250.

Call if your child:

  • has a fever higher than 100.5°F (taken under the arm)
  • has bleeding, redness, swelling or drainage at the ear
  • has pain or swelling or drainage of the ear
  • is not drinking liquids or is vomiting
  • is irritable and cannot be comforted
  • if you have any questions or concerns

Between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, call the Otolaryngology Nurse Line at 617-355-7147. After 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and on weekends and holidays, call the hospital page operator at 617-355-6369. Ask to speak with the Otolaryngology resident on call.