The Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Unit of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital has undertaken cochlear implant surgeries in Ghana.
Cochlear implants are designed for people with hearing loss where the hair cells in the inner ear are damaged, and cannot detect sounds properly.
The implant bypasses the damaged hair cells and sends electrical signals to the brain, where they are interpreted as sound.
The implant consists of an externally worn audio processor which detects sounds and sends them to the internal implant, which is placed just under the skin behind the ear.
The medical operations were done in collaboration with MED EL, an international medical company.
At a meeting to announce the successful surgeries of three patients in Accra, a consultant surgeon with the ENT Unit of the hospital, Professor Emmanuel Dornu Kitcher, called on the public to visit the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital to have their cochlear implant surgeries instead of travelling overseas.
“We are inviting persons who are going overseas to undergo cochlear implant to consider this local initiative since it is comprehensive,” he said.
The surgery is undertaken at a cost of $25,000 which includes the implant, cost of surgeries and rehabilitation, which is done twice weekly for 52 weeks.
He indicated that the hospital was making plans to set up a cochlear implantation foundation to help subsidise the cost for prospective patients.
“We want to create the awareness that something can be done for patients who have hearing loss here in Ghana,” he noted.
He thanked the MED-EL team for providing the comprehensive package for the surgeries.
Hear loss solution
A professor of Otology and Cochlear Implantation at the Alexandrian University in Egypt, Ahmed Mehanna, who was also part of the surgical team from MED-EL, said the collaboration was in line with MED-EL’s mision to provide hearing loss solutions worldwide.
He indicated that the surgeries were undertaken in November 2021, with each surgery taking about one-and-a-half to two hours to complete.
“After the surgery, the patients need the support of family and friends to successfully go through rehabilitation, which may take over a year,” he indicated.
He said they had currently begun the second phase of the surgeries, with two persons availing themselves to undergo the cochlear implant surgery.
Prof. Mehanna noted that the aim of MED-EL was not to just do the surgeries, but to train local doctors at Korle Bu to undertake the surgeries.
“Our aim is to work to overcome hearing loss and improve the quality of life of people, as well as transform lives through innovative hearing loss solutions,” he said.
Parents of the three patients who underwent the surgery thanked the medical team for their support, and testified that their children's sense of hearing had improved, including now being able to respond to their names.
They also noted that the speeches of their children had also improved through therapies they received after the surgeries.
“Our children are able to hear and respond accordingly to what they are asked to do,” they noted.