What is a cochlear implant?
A cochlear implant is an electronic device used to replace the damaged hair cells in the inner ear.
Adults receive one cochlear implant on the NHS and children are entitled to two implants. A cochlear implant does not restore normal hearing. Once you receive a cochlear implant, you should be able to hear sounds that you were not able to hear with your hearing aids. Although you will be able to hear more sounds, you will need to be trained to use and understand these sounds. Receiving a cochlear implant is simply the first step in a very long process.
Our cochlear implant assessment service
Our cochlear implant assessment service checks a patient's suitability for having a cochlear implant fitted.
People who have a bilateral severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss and who are not accessing speech easily through conventional hearing aids may be referred for cochlear implant assessment.
All appointments take place in the Hearing Implant Centre, 2nd floor, Lambeth Wing, St Thomas' Hospital.
Changing or cancelling appointments
If you cannot attend an appointment please let the department know as soon as possible. Please call the administrators on 020 7188 6245 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and contact details so we can get back to you.
Before your appointments
Please bring with you any hearing aids your child wears and a list of the healthcare professionals involved in their care.
The assessment process
The assessment process may differ depending on your child's needs, and takes place over a number of appointments.
The expected length of assessment, from referral to operation, is usually around 18 weeks, but may be quicker, or take longer, depending on your needs and situation.
If your child finds it a challenge to lip read, staff members will make sure you have access to all the information and conversations by typing what is being asked or said to you.
Initial screening assessment (two hours)
Initial meeting with an audiological scientist and possibly a member of the rehabilitation team who will:
- explain the assessment process
- take a full case history
- discuss issues surrounding cochlear implantation
- carry out some audiological assessment, for example a hearing test.
Medical assessment (30 minutes)
Initial meeting with an ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon will involve discussion of:
- your child's medical case history
- decisions made regarding further assessments required
- magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computer tomography (CT) may be discussed.
If appropriate a full assessment will then consist of:
Audiology assessments (two hours per appointment)
Further clinic appointments will be needed to assess your child's hearing, amplification needs and functional aided hearing abilities.
The number of appointments required will vary but will typically include the following:
- hearing aid fitting
- auditory brainstem hearing test (non invasive)
- speech perception testing.
Speech and language assessments (up to two hours)
An evaluation of your child's communication skills and the impact their hearing loss has had will be carried out.
Issues surrounding implantation, expectations and outcomes will also be discussed.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerised tomography (CT) scans
MRI and CT scan (if appropriate) will be carried out to check the integrity of the cochleae and hearing nerves.
You will receive feedback from the scan when you meet with the surgeon at the end of the assessment or at your child's next appointment with the team.
Information day (three hours)
You and your child will be invited to attend an information day, which is open to extended family, to find out more about cochlear implantation.
This will help you to be better informed for the decision making process. A palantypist (speech to text) will be available for those who find lip reading problematic.
Final ENT (30 minutes)
A final appointment with the surgeon will involve discussion of:
- medical issues surrounding cochlear implant surgery
- surgical consent.
Once consent is signed your child will be offered the next available surgery slot by the ENT admissions team.
They will endeavour to give you as much notice as possible. If you are unable to accept the date they offer, then you will be offered an alternative date.
In the months following your child's surgery we will continue to see them regularly for clinic sessions and rehabilitation. We will then continue to see them annually as required.
You can contact the department at any stage should you have any questions or concerns in between these follow-up appointments.
For more information about cochlear implants, please download our patient leaflets: