A cochlear implant is an electronic device that provides partial hearing to patients with severe-to-profound, bilateral hearing loss. The implant is surgically implanted in the inner ear and activated by a device worn outside the ear. Unlike hearing aids, the implant does not make sound louder or clearer. Instead, cochlear implants bypass damaged parts of the inner ear and send electrical 'sound' signals directly to the hearing nerve. These sound signals allow individuals who are severe-to-profoundly hearing impaired receive sound.
The Ear Institute of Chicago was the first in Illinois to initiate cochlear implants into the state. This was part of an FDA investigation under the direction of William House, MD. Since that time, the Ear Institute of Chicago has one of the largest series in Illinois due to the fact that four surgeons have been involved with implantation.
Candidates for a cochlear implant must receive little or no benefit from a hearing aid (for more information, see "Who is a Candidate"). Patients who had hearing and lost it, or those who never heard may be considered for a cochlear implant.
The Ear Institute of Chicago Cochlear Implant Program provides three choices of cochlear implants. These implants include the Nucleus 5 implant made by Cochlear Corporation, the HiRes 90K implant made by the Advanced Bionics Corporation, and the MAESTRO implant by the MED-EL Corporation. The Ear Institute of Chicago is one of the few centers in the United States that is involved with FDA cochlear implant trials.