Auditory Implant Service

Cochlear Implant Programme

What is a cochlear implant?

A Cochlear implant is an electronic device made up of two parts: an implanted component that is inserted during an operation, and external components worn on the head or body like a hearing aid. Cochlear implants provide a sensation of hearing for people who cannot obtain useful benefit from conventional hearing aids. Because the implant bypasses the damaged hair cells in the inner ear and stimulates the nerve of hearing directly. They are appropriate for both adults and children with severe to profound hearing impairment in both ears.


(Diagrams courtesy of MED-EL, Cochlear and Advanced Bionics)

Cochlear implantation can greatly improve quality of life; however the signal received via the implant is not normal hearing and therefore patients require time and training to become accustomed to it. Rehabilitation is required after implantation to promote optimal benefit from the device, especially in the case of young children who may never have heard before.

Internal Parts
The cochlear implant electrode


An array of several electrodes is inserted into the cochlea. This delivers electrical pulses directly to the hearing nerve. Then the nerve carries the information to the brain, where it is interpreted as sound.

The internal part of the implant consists of a receiver-stimulator package and an electrode array. The receiver-stimulator package contains electronic components which pick up the information from the transmitting coil worn on the head. Then this information delivered to the electrodes on the electrode array, in the form of pulses of electricity.

Advanced Bionics Cochlear MED-EL
HiRes Ultra Implant Nucleus 512 concerto
 External Parts

Processor on ear

The speech processor picks out the useful features of the incoming sound, and converts it into a digital signal.  The speech processor is connected to the internal device by means of a coil/cable and held on with a magnet.

The type of processor the patient uses depends on the cochlear implant system they have and their own preference.

A selection of processors used at USAIS
Advanced Bionics Cochlear MED-EL



Nucleus 7 C1000



Naida Q90




SONNET black

 online device choice


Assessments for a Cochlear Implant

Candidates for a cochlear implant will receive a multi-disciplinary assessment. Assessments are carried out one week in each month to allow candidates to meet with others that are also in the assessment phase.

Each assessment is tailored to the individual and we will try to carry out the assessment as quickly as possible. Finally, at the end of the assessment the team will get together to discuss whether the candidate is likely to benefit from a cochlear implant(s).

If the patient is likely to benefit from a cochlear implant and meets the NICE TAG 166 Guidelines then funding will be routinely given by NHS England. Then the patient will be added to the waiting list for surgery. If they are not within criteria for NHS funding but can still benefit from a cochlear implant then they can access our Self-funded cochlear implant pathway

What does a cochlear implant sound like? click here

For more information about referring a patient for a cochlear implant click here.


What does a cochlear implant assessment at the Auditory Implant Service involve?

Click on the links below to get an idea about the assessment schedules for adults and children. 

adult assessment

child and teen assessment