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boy throwing soccer ball in with ear implant
The image on this page is posted with the courtesy of Cochlear Americas.

A cochlear implant is surgically implanted in the inner ear to restore some hearing in people with severely impaired hearing. Activated with a device worn outside the ear, the cochlear implant bypasses damaged parts of the inner ear and sends electrical signals directly to the hearing nerve.

Patients who have lost the ability to hear as well as those who have never heard may be considered for a cochlear implant.

Click here if you would like information about nonimplantable or external hearing aids.

Click here if you would like information about acoustic neuromas and skull-based tumors.

The Summit Health Ear Specialty Center works with state-of-the-art cochlear implant manufacturers and can offer:

To determine whether a patient might benefit from a cochlear implant, thorough testing over the course of several visits is necessary. The visits generally include:

  • Basic hearing tests, hearing aid testing, and an examination. Patients who do not have a hearing aid or who have an inadequate hearing aid will be given a hearing aid to use
  • Special hearing tests to determine whether a patient can adequately use a hearing aid (this process usually requires more than 1 appointment)
  • A computed tomography (CT) scan of the inner ear

Please bring all hearing aids, hearing test results, and X-rays to your appointment.

Benefits of cochlear implantation include the ability to:

  • Detect speech and environmental sounds as well as distinguish common sounds
  • Use the telephone (in some cases)
  • Improve lip-reading
  • Improve speech and language skills in children

Candidates for cochlear implantation must:

  • Be aged 18 months or older
  • Have moderate-to-profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss
  • Receive little or no benefit from external hearing aids
  • Be highly motivated to join the hearing community

Bilateral Cochlear Implants are used in patients who would like to hear in both ears. Research shows advantages and disadvantages of using two cochlear implants in patients. For example, some patients suggest they experience improved quality of life well as the ability to hear in noisy environments, focus on conversations, and speak at a normal volume when they have two implants. In addition, data show improved self esteem in some patients who have bilateral cochlear implants. Disadvantages include cost, loss of residual hearing, and the possibility of preempting new technologies. Despite the advantages, insurance companies often do not cover the high cost of a second implant.

Electroacoustic Stimulation (EAS) is a treatment for patients with residual hearing who combine a conventional hearing aid and cochlear implant in one device.

Cochlear Implant Surgery and Rehabilitation
If you are having cochlear implant surgery, you will be given general anesthesia. Your surgeon will then make an incision behind the ear (mastoid bone) to access the cochlea and insert a thin wire. The receiver/stimulator will be secured in a shallow bed created in the mastoid bone. The procedure takes 1 to 2 hours. Most patients go home the same day of their procedure. A week after the surgery, your surgeon will check your incision to be sure it is healing properly. Four weeks after surgery, you will visit an audiologist to begin cochlear implant mapping and programming.

Insurance Coverage
Many insurance companies partially or fully cover the cost of cochlear implant surgery for a single device. Our staff will happily review the cost of the device and surgery and help you determine how much coverage your insurance company will provide.