Frequently Asked Questions

What are the types of hearing loss?

Hearing loss may be broadly classified based on the location of the disorder. The main mechanism may be a problem with the conduction of the sound through the external and middle ear (conductive hearing loss), a disorder of the cochlea and the auditory nerve in the inner ear (sensorineural hearing loss). A mixed hearing loss involves elements of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.


What type of hearing loss can be treated with a Cochlear Implant?

A Cochlear Implant is indicated in severe cases of hearing loss of the sensorineural type, when there is dysfunction of the hair cells of the cochlea or the auditory nerve. In these cases, conventional hearing aids may not provide enough sound for adequate development of speech and oral communication.


How do Cochlear Implants work?

Cochlear implants have two main parts: an external processor and an internal, implanted, receiver-stimulator. The external part captures sound with microphones, transforms the signal into electric impulses that are transmitted magnetically to the internal receiver. The signal is then delivered directly to the auditory nerve through an electrode placed inside the cochlea.

Three brands of cochlear implants are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Cochlear Implant Program at Texas Children’s Hospital provides surgical implantation and post-operative support for all three manufacturers: Advanced Bionics, Cochlear and MED-EL.


What is the ideal age to receive a Cochlear Implant?

The decision to proceed with implantation is highly individualized, but, in general terms, early intervention leads to the best possible outcomes. The first few months and years of life are the most important for hearing and speech development. Children who are born with severe to profound levels of hearing loss achieve the best results when the diagnosis is made early, hearing aids are fitted before 6 months of age, and cochlear implants are placed around their first birthday. Older children may also achieve significant benefit, especially if the period of time between their decrease in hearing and cochlear implantation is short.


How can my child be evaluated as a possible candidate for a cochlear implant?

Contact the Cochlear Implant Program Coordinator, Tiffany Dao via phone at (832)822-3508 or e-mail cochlearimplants@texaschildrens.org