Cochlear Implants


If you’re living with severe or profound hearing loss, you may be a candidate for a cochlear implant (hearing implant).

What Are Cochlear Implants?

A cochlear implant won’t restore normal hearing. But it can give you a representation of sounds around you to help you understand speech. Cochlear implants are made up of five parts.

  • A microphone that picks up the sound around you.
  • A speech processor, which organizes sounds picked up by the microphone.
  • A transmitter and receiver/stimulator, which take signals from the speech processor and changes them into electric impulses.
  • An electrode array, which is a group of electrodes that gather the impulses from the stimulator and distribute them to different areas of the auditory nerve.

Your Mercy care team will be involved every step of the way, helping you get used to the new sounds around you.

How Do Cochlear Implants Work?

Unlike a hearing aid, which makes sounds louder, a cochlear implant skips over damaged portions of the ear and sends signals directly to your auditory nerve. Those signals then travel to your brain, where they are recognized as sound. Hearing sounds through a cochlear implant is different than normal hearing, and it can take some time for you to adjust. 

During & After the Procedure

Your surgeon will make an incision behind your ear and form a small indent in the part of your skull where the internal device will stay. Then, a small hole will be created in your cochlea so the electrode array can be threaded through. Finally, the opening is stitched up and the internal device remains under your skin.

You won’t feel anything during the procedure because you’ll be under general anesthesia. Afterwards, you might experience some discomfort or dizziness and nausea. Many people go home the same day of surgery or the day after. About a week later, your doctor will need to remove your stitches.

Activating the Cochlear Implant

Your Mercy audiologist will work closely with you to adjust the sound processor so it fits. We’ll also check to make sure all the parts of the implant are working properly, determine what sounds you’re able to hear and teach you how to take care of your implant.

If you have concerns about your hearing, talk to your Mercy ENT about whether a cochlear implant is right for you.

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