Unlike a hearing aid, a cochlear implant does not provide amplification of the acoustic signal. Instead, it stimulates the acoustic nerve directly. It is mainly performed for patients with hearing loss who lost their ability to understand speech since it can restore speech discrimination.
A cochlear implant is a semi implantable device. The external and the internal components communicate through the intact skin. The internal device has to be surgically implanted and consists of a receiver/stimulator package behind the ear and a stimulating electrode inside the cochlea.
Overall, the procedure is performed in an outpatient fashion with the option for an overnight stay in the hospital. The duration of the procedure is about 1.5 hours including device testing and possible x-rays. Typically, patients are asked to return for a clinic appointment about one week after surgery.
Every cochlear implant recipients should be properly vaccinated to lower the risk for bacterial meningitis. Previous cases of meningitis have mainly been associated with one device which has been removed from the market. However, it has been shown that all cochlear implant patient should receive appropriate vaccines.