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Cochlear Implants

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What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

Your doctor may do some or all of the following.
Leading up to your procedure:
  • Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure.
  • Arrange for a ride to and from the procedure.
  • The night before, eat a light meal. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.


General anesthesia is used for this procedure. You will be asleep.

Description of Procedure

There are two parts to the procedure:
  • Implantation of receiver—A cut will be made in the skin behind the ear. A hole will be drilled through the bone behind the ear to the cochlea. A wire will be placed through the hole and into the cochlea. The receiver will then be put against the bone behind your ear. The wire will be attached to the receiver. The incision will be closed with stitches.
  • External hook-up—In 4 to 6 weeks, the area should be healed. At this point, the transmitter headpiece and speech processor will be connected.

How Long Will It Take?

About 1½-2 hours for adults and up to five hours for children

How Much Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.

Average Hospital Stay

The length of stay depends on the reasons why you are having the implant. Speak to your doctor about how long your stay may be.

Post-procedure Care

At Home
After your procedure, be sure to follow your doctor's instructions. Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
You will have frequent follow-up visits for the following:
You will have frequent follow-up visits for the following:
  • Headpiece fitting, done 4-6 weeks after surgery
  • Adjustments to the speech processor
  • Ongoing evaluation of hearing status
In addition, you will have cochlear implant training. This will help improve your ability to:
  • Identify sounds
  • Read lips
  • Develop speech skills


American Academy of Audiology

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders


About Kids Health

Cochlear Implant Awareness Foundation


Cochlear implants. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/treatment/cochlear%5Fimplant.htm. Accessed July 24, 2013.

Cochlear implants. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website. Available at: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/coch.asp. Updated March 2011. Accessed July 24, 2013.

Cochlear implants. United States Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ImplantsandProsthetics/CochlearImplants/default.htm. Updated April 16, 2009. Accessed July 24, 2013.

6/2/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.


Revision Information

Review Date: 05/2014
  • Update Date: 00/52/2014