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Cochlear Implants

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What are Cochlear Implants?

A cochlear implant is a small, surgically inserted device that restores partial hearing. While they do not restore hearing completely, these surgical implants can help you to hear more sounds and understand speech more clearly.

Effectiveness varies from person to person, depending on cause of hearing loss, length and extent of hearing loss, and general health.

How Do Cochlear Implants Work?

A cochlear implant has three parts:

  • Receiver/stimulator—a small electronic device surgically implanted behind the ear
  • Microphone—worn externally
  • Speech processor—worn externally

All three parts are needed for the implant to work. The microphone receives sound, then sends sound waves to the speech processor.

The speech processor then transmits the sound via radio waves to the receiver. The receiver then sends signals that stimulate the auditory nerve fibers, sending information to the brain that is interpreted as meaningful sound.

What is the Difference Between Hearing Aids and Cochlear Implants?

Hearing aids are worn on or inside the ear and make sounds louder. They depend on the inner ear, so hearing aids may not work well if there is too much damage to your inner ear.

Cochlear implants are surgically inserted. They may work better than hearing aids for those with extreme hearing loss. If you need a hearing device, our audiology experts will walk you through every step of the process.

Am I Eligible for Cochlear Implants?

Cochlear implants are for people with moderate to severe hearing loss, single-sided deafness, or asymmetric hearing loss. If you struggle to understand speech even with appropriate hearing aids, a cochlear implant might be for you.

Your doctor may use the following tests to determine if cochlear implants are right for you:

  • Ear Evaluation—A physical exam of the middle and inner ear, checking for infection or any abnormality that would prevent surgery
  • Hearing Test—Determines the level of hearing with and without a hearing aid
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan or MRI—Examines the inner ear structure
  • Psychological Tests—Evaluates the patient’s motivation and expectations for the cochlear implant
  • Physical Exam—Checking for any other conditions that would prevent surgery

Schedule an appointment or consultation.

Call (585) 758-5700

By the Numbers

50-60 Cochlear Implants Per Year

UR Medicine's Approach

You may need a referral to UR Medicine Audiology for a cochlear implant. There are three stages to the cochlear implant procedure:

  • Pre-surgery evaluation determines if you’re a good candidate and if you can have the surgery. 
  • Surgery can be done on an inpatient or outpatient basis and can last anywhere from two to five hours. Children are typically treated on an inpatient basis and require a longer surgery.
  • Training and adjustments occur about a month after surgery, when you receive the speech processor and microphone. The system is adjusted for sound preferences such as volume. You will continue to have regular checkups to readjust the system as needed.

What Sets Us Apart?

We are one of the only centers in the Upstate New York region providing cochlear implants and bone-anchored hearing systems, such as the Cochlear Osia, Baha, Ponto, and Adhear.

Our ENT physicians partner with UR Medicine Audiology and other audiologists across the Rochester metropolitan area and surrounding region to make care convenient and accessible for patients near and far.

Our specialists perform hundreds of surgeries every year, including 50-60 cochlear implant procedures, so patient care is always in the hands of well-practiced experts. As part of UR Medicine, our physicians are exposed to more complex conditions and unusual complications than most physicians in the Rochester area.

Each member of our team at UR Medicine Audiology holds a master’s degree or higher and is New York State-licensed and nationally certified in audiology. Our providers engage in extensive research and are dedicated to advancing knowledge and expanding treatment options.


Our care team is here for you. Find a UR Medicine expert and get care now.

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We serve you in the Rochester metropolitan area and surrounding region.

1 location

Ear, Nose, & Throat - Brighton
Part of Strong Memorial Hospital

Clinton Woods
2365 South Clinton Avenue, Suite 200
Rochester, NY 14618

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