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A cochlear implant is a medical device that bypasses damaged structures in the inner ear and directly stimulates the auditory nerve to the brain, which translates the signals into sound.

Cochlear implants have four main parts that help provide a sense of sound to patients who were previously deaf or hard of hearing.

The main parts of a cochlear implant include:

  1. Microphone: Picks up sound
  2. Speech processor: Selects and arranges sounds from the microphone into speech
  3. Transmitter/Receiver/Stimulator: Converts speech sounds into electrical impulses to stimulate the auditory nerve
  4. Electrode Array: Collects impulses from the stimulator and sends them to different parts of the auditory nerve

Hearing with a cochlear implant is different from natural hearing or hearing with the help of hearing aids.

Meet the Teams

Physician who specializes in ENT explains something to a patient

The Cochlear Implant Program is a multidisciplinary team of otolaryngology surgeons and audiologists.

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Cochlear implant candidates

Cochlear implants can help patients with sensorineural hearing loss caused by malformations or malfunctions of the inner ear or patients for whom hearing aides are no longer working. Diagnostic tests include:

  • Hearing evaluation: Audiologists evaluate hearing to assess the degree of hearing loss and determine if a cochlear implant would be an appropriate solution. The test simulates real-world conditions, such as:
    • Quiet and noisy environment
    • With and without the use of hearing aids
  • Consultation: Receive a comprehensive overview of cochlear implants, including:
    • Specific instructions
    • Explanation of the procedure
    • What to expect after surgery
    • Potential hearing outcomes
    • The best device options for your hearing loss

After cochlear implant surgery

Cochlear implant surgery is typically performed on an outpatient basis, which means you will be home that evening. After you have healed, you will meet with your implant audiologist, who will program the cochlear implant and monitor your progress as you adjust to hearing again.

If necessary, you will meet with a speech language pathologist to maximize your own speech and understanding of everyday conversation.

Locations & Contact Information
    23-2202l USNWR National Specialty Cards_NHM_National ENT

    Northwestern Memorial Hospital 
    Nationally recognized in Ear, Nose & Throat (No. 32)

    Cochlear Implant Surgery

    A cochlear implant is a device that helps reverse nerve-related hearing loss. It can treat hearing loss that will not respond to hearing aids.

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    American Cochlear Implant Alliance Member

    The ACI Alliance works to eliminate barriers to cochlear implantation by sponsoring research, driving awareness and advocating for improved access to cochlear implants across the US.