Cochlear Implants - The Hearing Center

Cochlear Implants

Cochlear Implants Program

A cochlear implant (CI) is a surgically implanted device that delivers electrical stimulation to the hearing nerve in response to sound. Because it translates acoustic energy into electrical stimulation, this technology can often provide hearing sensitivity for individuals who cannot benefit from traditional hearing aid technology.

Cochlear implant systems consist of both internal and external components. The internal device is surgically implanted and requires an external sound processor to function. The sound processor can be worn at ear level (similar to a hearing aid) or on the body (like a pager) and consists of a microphone, processor, and transmitting coil that connects with the internal device via a magnet on the scalp behind the ear.

Cochlear implants are appropriate for individuals with a severe hearing loss in both ears who receive limited benefit from appropriately fitted hearing aids. Candidacy is determined by specific hearing tests performed by a cochlear implant audiologist. CI’s are FDA approved for children as young as 12 months of age and there is no age limit for adults who meet both medical and hearing criteria. Our cochlear implant program welcomes both pediatric and adult candidates.

Once the patient is determined to be a candidate based on audiological testing, they are scheduled for a medical consultation with the cochlear implant surgeon. The surgeon may require additional diagnostic tests such as a CT scan or Balance Function Test to determine the status of the inner ear or balance system.

Once insurance pre-authorization has been acquired and the patient has been medically cleared for surgery, they return to see the CI audiologist to review expectations, answer questions, and to select device options.

Locally, CI surgery is performed at Lutheran Hospital under general anesthesia and lasts approximately 2 hours. The surgeon will determine whether the procedure will be completed on an outpatient or inpatient basis.

CI device activation is performed by the audiologist approximately 4 weeks after surgery in order to allow for adequate healing of the surgical incision site and facilitate a good connection between the external and internal components. At this appointment, the audiologist will set the sound processor using software at a level that is comfortable for the patient and will also provide thorough instructions on how to use the external equipment.

Subsequent programming and evaluations are completed as recommended by the CI audiologist or surgeon, but typically occur at the 1 week, 1 month, 3 month, 6 month and 1 year intervals with annual visits thereafter. All cochlear implant audiology appointments are currently performed at our Lutheran Medical Park office.

Please contact the Cochlear Implant Program Coordinator, Melissa Benton at Ext 1866 for any CI related phone calls including appointments, questions, and support group information. More detailed written information on ENT’s cochlear implant program is available upon request.

Remote control, ear-level sound processor,
and implant courtesy of Cochlear® Americas

Body-worn/ waterproof Neptune™ sound
processor courtesy of Advanced Bionics