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LOS ANGELES (Variety), Dec. 20 — Surgery to restore Rush Limbaugh’s hearing, which he suddenly lost last spring due to an autoimmune disease, appears to have been a success, his doctor said Thursday. He added that the conservative radio host would be free to return to work in January and would likely hear again after several weeks.
Limbaugh shocked his listeners in October when he announced on the air that he was ‘for all practical purposes, deaf,’ however he vowed to keep working.
DR. ANTONIO De la Cruz of the House Ear Clinic and Institute in Los Angeles said he performed a two-hour “cochlear implant” surgery on the 50-year-old radio legend’s left ear on Wednesday at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles and that Limbaugh returned home on Thursday morning.
“I feel great!” Limbaugh said in a statement issued Thursday. “The surgery went smoothly and I’m looking forward to enjoying the holidays and returning to the air in early January.”
Limbaugh shocked his listeners in October when he announced on the air that he was “for all practical purposes, deaf,” however he vowed to keep working.
De la Cruz said Limbaugh’s hearing loss was the result of ”autoimmune inner ear disease,” a rare condition in which a malfunctioning immune system attacks a victim’s inner ear, damaging the hearing nerve and causing progressive, rapid hearing loss.
TINY ELECTRODES INSERTED
After several weeks of treatment with medication to save Limbaugh’s residual hearing, he and his doctors decided to proceed with surgery to insert a cluster of tiny electrodes known as a “cochlear implant” in his inner left ear in hopes of restoring his hearing.
De la Cruz said that after several weeks of healing, Limbaugh will be fitted with a tiny microphone and language processing device that he will wear behind his ear. The external device will transmit sounds to the series of electrodes implanted in his inner ear, which will then relay sounds to the brain along the hearing nerve.
“This cochlear implant will reconnect Mr. Limbaugh to his environment, and that is an important benefit to his quality of life,” De la Cruz said.
Two components make up the external unit worn behind the ear by cochlear implant users — a microphone, which receives environmental sounds and transmits them to a speech processor, where mechanical sounds are then converted into a processed electrical signal.