Cochlear Implants

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 three parts:

  • Call Your Doctor

    After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

    • Pain
    • Lightheadedness or vomiting
    • Facial paralysis or twitching
    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge at the incision site

    If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

  • Definition

    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 three parts:

    • Speech processor—The speech processor looks like a long, narrow calculator. It is worn behind the ear or on a belt. It increases sound, converts it into digital signals, and sends these signals to the transmitter.
    • Transmitter—The transmitter is a headphone that is worn behind the ear. It receives electrical signals from the speech processor and sends them through the skin to the receiver.
    • Receiver—The receiver is the part that is implanted. It is a magnetic disk about the size of a quarter. It is placed under the skin behind one ear. A wire that runs from the receiver to an electrode is placed in the inner ear, where it stimulates the nerves of the cochlea.
    The Cochlea
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  • What to Expect

  • Reasons for Procedure

    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.

  • Possible Complications

    Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

    • Infection
    • Damage to nearby nerves
    • Problems with balance
    • Emotional stress caused by having higher expectations for the technology
    • Poor quality of hearing following the surgery

    Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

    • Smoking
    • Previous surgery
    • Previous ear infections
    • Abnormal inner ear anatomy