Typically, cochlear implant recipients must have sensorineural hearing loss (meaning the cause stems from the inner ear or cochlea). But another important factor is a person’s degree of speech understanding, which is the ability to not just hear but also to distinguish words. Compensating for this degree of hearing loss can cause fatigue and can lead to social withdrawal and depression.
If you have hearing loss that cannot be adequately addressed with hearing aids and that interferes with daily activities, you may be a candidate for a cochlear implant. Rapid improvements in technology and expanded criteria have greatly increased the range of people who may be eligible.
We use a team approach to evaluate people for cochlear implant candidacy and throughout the implant process. Our team of neurotologists, audiologists, speech-language pathologists, nurses, social workers, and others work together to improve your hearing and daily communication experience.
Cochlear Implant Eligibility
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.
Cochlear Implant Evaluation
Doctors will test your ability to hear and understand speech, both with and without hearing aids. Doctors may also assess your balance. These tests help determine whether cochlear implantation is right for you and provide realistic expectations of the results you can expect to achieve.
A neurotologist may order imaging tests -- like CT or MRI scans -- to ensure your ear anatomy is compatible with cochlear implantation. These scans may also indicate whether one or both ears should be implanted.
Choosing Your Implant
Once you have been cleared to move forward with surgery, you will be able to choose one of the three available types of implants: Advanced Bionics, Cochlear Americas, and MED-EL. You will be able to decide which you prefer based on how they fit (behind or off the ear), what accessories are available, and their MRI compatibility.
Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. That is why our ear nose and throat program is nationally ranked, and the highest ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2021-2022.