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Cochlear Implants

A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted device to help restore hearing to persons with bilateral, severe to profound sensorineural (nerve) hearing loss. The cochlear implant surgery procedure can be performed on children, ages 12 months and older, and adults of any age, whose hearing is not being substantially improved through the use of hearing aids.

Cochlear implants consist of two parts:

  • The internal component is surgically implanted in the inner ear by an otology specialist.
  • The external portion sits on the outer ear (similar to a hearing aid) and communicates with the internal portion via a coil held to the head by a magnet. The external portion is a sound processor and is battery operated.

Beginning with a newborn hearing screening, children with hearing issues are provided with a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach at NorthShore, which includes:

  • Audiology – Hearing testing
  • Genetics - Help determine the cause of congenital hearing loss
  • Ophthamology – Testing and treatment for any vision issues that may occur alongside poor hearing
  • Otology – Surgical placement of the cochlear implant
  • Psychiatry – Services to help families discuss and feel at ease with the decision to use implants
  • Speech pathology – Speech therapy to aid in the development of language skills diminished by hearing loss


A cochlear implant evaluation involves a two hour audiology evaluation as well as an otolaryngology consultation. The audiologist will perform multiple tests to determine candidacy for cochlear implant surgery, including a hearing test, tympanometry, acoustic reflexes and speech testing, with and without hearing aids for adults.

Other tests may be completed for children to determine if a cochlear implant procedure is best, depending on their age, including auditory brainstem response testing, visual reinforcement audiometry and conditioned play audiometry. Further speech testing, with and without hearing aids, will also be completed. In addition parents will be asked to fill out a detailed questionnaire about their child’s hearing health and responses to sound.

At NorthShore we implant devices from both Cochlear Corporation and Advanced Bionics.

For More Information

For more information or to schedule an appointment for a cochlear implant evaluation, call 847.504.3300.