Cochlear Implant Surgery Step by Step

Cochlear Implant Surgery Step by Step


Preparing for cochlear implant surgery can be a scary process for you and your family–but it does not have to be. Here is a description of what will happen during your cochlear implant surgery to help you prepare for the exciting journey ahead.

Cochlear implantation is usually a day surgery and takes anywhere from 2-4 hours. This means that you can recover in the comfort of your home following the completion of the surgery. However, if you have other medical issues, your surgeon may request that you stay overnight in hospital.

The operating staff will ask you about any medications you are taking, when you last took them, and when you last ate. You will be provided an anaesthetic, which is a medication that allows you to sleep deeply during the entire surgery. They may place some monitors on your chest for the team to ensure that you are sleeping well during surgery.

Once you are asleep, the surgeon will shave a small amount of hair behind the ear being implanted. An incision line will be marked on your skin to determine where the cochlear implant will be placed on your skull bone.

Your surgeon will make a cut behind the designated ear and create a path within the skull to the middle ear space. A small hole is made at the entrance to your inner ear to allow your surgeon to insert the electrode array of the implant. This electrode array is what “talks” directly to your hearing nerve. Once the electrode array is in place in your inner ear, the surgeon will close the incision with stitches or surgical staples. Sometimes the cochlear implant audiologist will perform minor testing to confirm that the implant is secured in place and working, but this is not required.

A pressure bandage will be placed around your head and over your ear to limit any bleeding from the surgery site. You will be woken up and wheeled into recovery. Once the recovery team determines that you are safe to leave, you will be able to go home for recovery.

The stitches or surgical staples stay in place for approximately 2 weeks after surgery. Your surgeon will request to see you at that time to remove them. The cochlear implant speech processor (external device) will be turned on, or “activated” 2-4 weeks after the surgery once any swelling from the surgery goes down. Some people choose to try and wear their hearing aid during this recovery period.

‘’ After the surgery, I felt fine. There was no pain or issues of any kind, and I went home the day after. In fact, the biggest issue was the fact that they shaved my head around the implant. They’re certainly not trained hairdressers at the hospital! [laughs] ‘’

Karin, Oticon Medical cochlear implant recipient

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