Monday, July 30, 2007

More on the Today Programme

In response to a number of complaints from parents and professionals regarding this interview last Tuesday (24th July), Friday's Today Programme on Radio 4 interviewed Dr. Kaukab Rajput from Great Ormond Street. You can listen again (until 3rd August) to the relevant section at:

Listen again - Friday

There is a transcript available at:

I Look so I Can Hear - Cochlear implants in Children

I don't think the interview goes anywhere near far enough to undo the impressions left by the first piece. There are numerous factual inaccuracies in the original piece that weren't addressed and, by dwelling on risks associated with surgery rather than the potential outcomes, Dr. Rajput doesn't go far enough and doesn't sound particularly convinced herself.

So, as an attempt to provide some balance, here is a section of the transcript from the original interview with Paula Garfield of Deafinitely Theatre interspersed with my comments in italics.

“Well, adults and young people who make the decision for themselves is
absolutely fine by me when they are able to make their own choices.

This is a point that Dr. Rajput starts to make but needs much more emphasis. If it was left until the point children could make the decision then the chances of success are greatly reduced. In infants and young children the brain is growing and developing. It is much more able to adapt to new inputs, as from an implant, and make sense of them. The point is, that by having our children implanted, we are giving them choices not taking them away. We do not deny their deafness but to deny them the opportunity to hear?

But, what I am not comfortable with is babies who are implanted as early as possible because deafness is not a life threatening illness and a Cochlea Implant placed in the
head of a baby has many, many risks

the surgery normally takes around two hours and almost always under three (not the seven stated elsewhere in the interview). The risks associated with it are those related to general anaesthesia and precious little else. There is some suggestion of an increased risk of meningitis which is addressed via a vaccination prior to surgery. There is also a very low risk of contact with a facial nerve - something that any surgeon knows about and knows how to steer round.

After both his implants Tom stayed in for one night. In the US it is now routine to send implantees home the same day.

and the Cochlea Implant is then there for life. The child doesn’t have the choice of taking it off when they have had enough,

the internal part can be explanted if there are problems but there are precious few who need or choose that option. Any implanted person can, however, take the external device off whenever they want. Indeed, I watched an implanted girl and her mother give an incredible presentation a few weeks ago. As soon as the girl had finished doing her piece she sat at the back and flicked her coils off so she could concentrate on her book without having to listen to her mum embarrass her with stories of her younger days.

when they experience tinnitus maybe as a result of it. It’s stuck there.”

The RNID, in this factsheet, point out that most people experience a reduction in tinnitus post implant

This blog is hardly Radio 4 in terms of its audience but every opportunity to point out such inaccuracies like this must surely be taken.


Anonymous said...

2 hours almost 3 for one ear or both ears?

Jason said...

For Tom it was around two hours for each operation - he was implanted sequentially, the operations being three months apart.

Drew's Mom said...

Drew's surgery was a bit over 4 hours - including sedation time and that was for TWO ears! No where near seven hours - and it was TWO!

Drew was sent home within one hour of waking from the surgery. As soon as he drank a little Pedilyte and kept it down they sent him home. Slept the rest of the night, normal self the next day.

Our Dr. did facial nerve monitoring that would indicate if he was even close to the facial nerve.

Feeling your frustration in the US...