Pleas of lone government hospital taking up cochlear implants fall on deaf ear

The pressure on them is set to increase as the State government plans to launch an ENT screening programme in February which will lead to more such cases coming to light.

Published: 11th January 2019 07:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th January 2019 07:21 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: As the burden of attending to all cochlear implant cases falls on Government ENT Hospital in Koti, ENT specialists of the institute have been batting for the establishment of another centre at Gandhi Hospital for a year now.

The pressure on them is set to increase as the State government plans to launch an ENT screening programme in February which will lead to more such cases coming to light.The surgery costs a minimum of `8 lakh at private hospitals. This, however, is not the sole reason why the poor opt to approach the government hospital in Koti for the surgery. Superintendent of the hospital, Dr T Shankar, said no private hospital performs the procedure under Aarogyasri Health Scheme.

It takes anywhere between three to four hours to perform a cochlear implant surgery and only one case is performed a day in private hospitals.The institution in Koti, however, takes up the surgery every alternate day if the need arises. Every month, around five patients with profound hearing loss who require the implants approach the ENT hospital, which has a 15-20 name-long waiting list.

“When the surgery is on, we will be busy for three to four-hours, leading to other cases including cancer surgeries, tonsils removal etc getting delayed. This is the reason there is a delay in attending to cochlear implant surgeries though we have trained surgeons. If another centre is established, the cases can be shared,” Dr Shankar said.  Dr A Shobhan Babu, who used to perform the surgery at the hospital is now posted as head of ENT Department at Gandhi Hospital. “As I have experience handling such cases, I can start the procedure here and also train others at Gandhi Hospital.

“Every seven of 1,000 babies are born with hearing problems. Of them, one to two percent have profound hearing loss and the only solution is to implant cochlear devices,” Dr Shobhan Babu said.

Long way to go after cochlear surgery

The implantation of the device alone cannot be construed as job done. It has to be followed up with audio-verbal therapy which helps children with deafness understand speech. This therapy lasts between one and  one-and-half years.

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