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What Is a Cochlear Implant?

Learn what cochlear implants are from Ronald A. Hoffman, M.D. in this Howcast video.


The cochlear implant is a bionic ear that is surgically implanted that bypasses the sick hair cells in your inner ear and cause a neural sensory or sensory neural hearing loss. The nerve that underlies these little hairs is almost always alive and working. It's the little hairs that don't work.

So a cochlear implant is an electrode array that goes into your inner ear and we bypass the sick hair cells and we directly stimulate the surviving nerve endings. Cochlear implants are indicated for patients who have a severe to profound hearing loss that is not helped by hearing aids.

If you are seeking an evaluation for a cochlear implant you will be evaluated with your hearing aid to see how well you perform with your hearing aid. If your hearing aid is not providing adequate amplification then you may be a candidate for a cochlear implant.

Cochlear implantation involves a surgical procedure and after the surgery, about three weeks after the surgery, an external processor is fit that looks like a hearing aid. So there's an internal part to the implant that gets surgically implanted and there's an external part that's worn on the outside. There's nothing sticking through the skin. The signal goes through the skin.

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