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Limbaugh ‘Great’ After Ear Surgery

From a Times Staff Writer

Doctors who performed cochlear implant surgery on conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh said Thursday that the operation was successful.

A doctor from the House Ear Clinic and Institute in Los Angeles said Limbaugh, 50, could regain “as much as 30% to 50% of his hearing in the implanted ear.”

“This cochlear implant will reconnect Mr. Limbaugh to his environment, and that is an important benefit to his quality of life,” said Dr. Antonio De la Cruz, who performed the surgery Wednesday at St. Vincent Medical Center.

“I feel great,” Limbaugh said in a statement. “The surgery went smoothly, and I’m looking forward to enjoying the holidays and returning to the air in early January.”

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In early October, Limbaugh announced that he had gone nearly deaf, suffering from a rare inner-ear disease. Medication did not correct the condition, doctors said. Limbaugh said he noticed the hearing problem in late May.

As the condition worsened, the radio host’s staff used adjectives and color-coding on a computer screen to convey a caller’s mood, in addition to his words.

It will be several weeks before Limbaugh can use the implant, which transmits mechanical sounds that are processed and sent to the brain via an electrical signal. Audiologists describe the sounds as “more mechanical” than a person is used to, said Christa Spieth, a spokeswoman for the Ear Clinic and Institute.

Cochlear implant patients must work closely with an audiologist and family members as they learn to use the technology, De la Cruz said. One of the first benefits of the surgery is the ability to hear environmental sounds again, he said.

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“Over time, the cochlear implant patient learns to hear and identify a voice, determine inflections and pauses, and then the brain tends to fill in the rest,” De la Cruz said.


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