A cochlear implant is an electronic device that is implanted during surgery. It helps provide hearing to people who have a certain type of hearing loss. This type of hearing loss is usually caused by damage or a defect in the inner ear. The implants can directly stimulate the auditory nerve to send information to the brain.
Cochlear implants have 3 parts:
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Cochlear implants provide a heightened sense of sound for adults and children with profound hearing loss. They are designed for people whose hearing does not improve with surgical correction or the use of a hearing aid. Cochlear implants will not restore or create normal hearing.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Complications may include:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Your doctor may do some or all of the following.
Your doctor will examine you, paying particular attention to your ears. This can be done with:
Evaluate internal structures with imaging tests, such as:
Leading up to your procedure:
General anesthesia is used for this procedure. You will be asleep.
There are 2 parts to the procedure:
About 1½-2 hours for adults and up to 5 hours for children
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
The length of stay depends on the reasons why you are having the implant. Speak to your doctor about how long your stay may be.
After your procedure, be sure to follow your doctor's instructions.
You will have frequent follow-up visits for the following:
In addition, you will have cochlear implant training. This will help improve your ability to:
It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Academy of Audiology
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
Cochlear Implant Awareness Foundation
Cochlear implants. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/treatment/cochlear_implant.htm. Accessed May 5, 2016.
Cochlear implants. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website. Available at: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/coch.aspx. Updated May 3, 2016. Accessed May 5, 2016.
Cochlear implants. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ImplantsandProsthetics/CochlearImplants/default.htm. Updated October 28, 2015. Accessed May 5, 2016.
6/2/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, et al. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.
Last reviewed May 2018 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 5/23/2014