Jefferson University Hospitals

Cochlear Implant

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Cochlear Implant

A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted device that may dramatically improve one's hearing if profoundly deaf or hard of hearing. It consists of an internal device made up of electrodes that are threaded into the inner ear or cochlea that stimulate the auditory nerve and an external device that transmits the sound from the outside world to the electrode.

It's important to understand that a cochlear implant is very different from a hearing aid. Hearing loss, as a result of damage to the inner ear, can be severe enough that simply making a sound louder is no longer effective. 

Procedure Details

Cochlear implant surgery is typically an outpatient procedure. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia and usually lasts about 3 to 4 hours. You will be seen approximately 10 days after your surgery to have sutures removed and to test the implant with the external equipment. The activation of the external equipment is typically scheduled three to four weeks after surgery.

10 Days Later

Ten days after your procedure, you will have an appointment with the audiologist to check the internal device. You will not yet be hearing through the external processor. The device will be stimulated internally and you will only hear beeps.

Three to Four Weeks Later

Approximately three to four weeks after surgery, your external processor will be activated, and you will hear with the implant for the first time. The audiologist will slowly increase the volume until you begin to hear sounds. It is normal to experience a variety of perceptions or sensations. Voices and sounds may not be very clear at first. This is a normal process, and your ability to hear will improve with time. This activation appointment is just the beginning of your journey to hearing better with a cochlear implant. At the end of this appointment, you will take your external processor and additional equipment home with you.

Follow-up Visits

Expect to return approximately five more times for regular appointments during the first year following the initial procedure. As you learn to hear, the external sound processor will be adjusted for volume. Each appointment will allow your device to be programmed specifically for you. Your speech will also be tested with the cochlear implant, in order to document your progress. 

It takes approximately six to 12 months after your procedure appointment to reach an optimal level of hearing with your implant. Our audiology team will guide you through the process of hearing better every step of the way.           

Am I a Candidate for a Cochlear Implant?

Board-certified neuro-otologists of the Jefferson Balance and Hearing Center will examine your condition and take a thorough medical history. At Jefferson, candidates for a cochlear implant must be 18 years or older. Your doctor will recommend:

  • An evaluation to determine your speech understanding with and without hearing aids
  • Hearing tests with and without hearing aids
  • Test result review to discuss candidacy

Additional tests may be recommended, including:

  • Lab studies to rule out another medical problem 
  • CT scan to evaluate the cochlea, and/or MRI to rule out a central disease 
  • Vaccinations

Make an Appointment

To schedule an appointment, please call 1-800-JEFF-NOW (800-533-5669) or