What is a Cochlear Implant?
Cochlear implants provide useful hearing to adults and children
who get little or no benefit from a hearing aid. They consist of:
The internal part: the receiver, surgically implanted in the mastoid bone behind the ear, with electrodes inserted into the inner ear, (cochlea).
The external part: the microphone and speech processor convert sound into an electrical signal which is sent to the electrodes in the inner ear. These then send the signal through the auditory nerve to the brain, where it is perceived as sound
Thinking about an implant?
Don’t delay referral!
If as a parent, adult or professional you think a referral should be made for implantation, what should you do?
If you think that an implant should be considered, then contact your local ENT consultant or audiology service, to obtain a referral. If you are unsure about whether an implant is the right way forward, it is a good idea to ask for a referral to a Cochlear Implant Centre, because the implant process will involve the many tests and assessments which will help to clarify the situation.
Assessments should involve the whole family as well as the child or adult – deafness in the family affects everyone,and cochlear implantation will make a difference to the family as well as to the individual. It is important during the process to meet others with implants and experienced professionals to discuss the options with you.
Before the referral, there must be an audiological evaluation and the best possible hearing aids fitted, with good ear moulds. Any ear problems should be carefully managed. Make sure you ask about the outcomes from the implant centre, about the devices used, about the important issues and what follow-up care will be offered – medical, scientific and rehabilitative. As well as discussing options with experienced professionals, it is important to ask to meet others with implants and parents of children with implants to ask about the services they received as well as individual outcomes. There are also independent groups who advocate for implant users and are happy to share experiences
Cochlear Implant Centres in the UK
The names and contact details of cochlear implant centres in the UK can be found on our website here.
Each centre will have its own specialist team and information about its services.
Cochlear Implant Pathway (click on the image to download)
When hearing aids are not enough?
When hearing aids are not providing enough – there are a number of options, including cochlear implants and electro-acoustic hearing aids.
The starting point is careful and expert audiological testing and it is essential to explore what benefit the child or adult is receiving through their hearing aids. Tests of speech understanding are important to include when assessing older children and adults.
Some children have unusual or complex audiograms and they respond to speech with their aids but nevertheless they should be considered.
This audiogram shows the general trend in audiological terms.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommends cochlear implants for children and adults with severe to profound deafness.
The long technology appraisal by NICE of cochlear implantation reached its conclusion in January 2009, recommending:
Unilateral cochlear implantation of those with severe to profound deafness.
Simultaneous bilateral cochlear implantation for children.
Simultaneuos bilateral cochlear implantation for adults who are blind or have other disabilities that increase their reliance on auditory stimuli. A sequential bilateral implant for those who had a unilateral implant before the publication of the guidance and who are either still a child or an adult who is blind or has another disability which increases reliance on auditory stimuli.
While the benefits of bilateral implantation are recognised by NICE, the challenges of implementing the guidance remain. NICE wil be reviewing their guidance again shortly.
Did you know?
Approx 11,000 users in the UK alone.
The majority of profoundly deaf children in the UK have an implant.
About 350 children per year are born deaf enough to be considered for an implant.
About 100 more children per year become deaf early in life and may need an implant, giving an annual recurrent demand of 450 per year.
In addition to those already implanted, about 7,500 adults are audiologically suitable for an implant.
The annual recurrent demand is conservatively estimated to be 1200, being 450 children and 750 adults.
Please follow these links to the cochlear implant companies' own websites:
Please see map of medicine for guidelines about care pathways for cochlear implantation by clicking here
Why not visit Sounding Board where you can read and download the latest information about Cochlear Implants from the manufacturers, click here
We now offer a wide range of spares and accessories in our online shop which you can now buy direct from The Ear Foundation.