Frequently asked questions

We're here to help you every step of the way. Find answers to common questions about hearing implants.


We understand that getting a hearing implant is a life-changing event for you and your family. That’s why we put together some information that can help you find the answers you need to move forward. Dr. David Kelsall has been a cochlear implant surgeon for over 28 years and believes that hearing is a vital part of communication. Watch the video below to see Dr. Kelsall answer one of the most common questions he gets asked by his patients.

  1. How does a cochlear implant work?

    Cochlear implants are an established, FDA-approved medical treatment option designed to replace the function of the inner ear (cochlea) and mimic natural hearing. Cochlear implants use electrical impulses to transmit sound to the inner ear and on to the hearing nerve. This is then interpreted by the brain as sound. There are two main components to a cochlear implant system: an external processor and an internal implant. Research shows that adults with cochlear implants understand sentences almost seven times better on average than they could with hearing aids1. Learn more about how a cochlear implant works.

  2. How long is cochlear implant surgery?

    Cochlear implant surgery can last up to two hours for one ear. The surgery is typically outpatient and performed under general anesthesia. Cochlear implant procedure is considered safe, but like with any surgery, there are risks. After a couple days of recovery, most people are back to their normal routine and back to work 1 to 2 weeks after surgery. Find out more about Cochlear implant surgery.

  3. How much does a cochlear implant cost?

    The out-of-pocket cost associated with getting a cochlear implant will depend on your insurance plan and eligibility. Unlike hearing aids, cochlear implants are covered by Medicare. They are also covered by many insurance plans, including Tricare and typically Medicaid.* Hearing evaluations are typically covered by insurance too.

    Your Hearing Implant Specialist can help determine your coverage and costs by submitting the necessary paperwork for approval. Review our insurance coverage for hearing aids vs. hearing implants chart to see a breakdown of coverage by policy type.

  4. Will a cochlear implant help me hear better than my hearing aids?

    Cochlear implants work differently than hearing aids. For some, hearing aids may be an effective option to treat hearing loss. However, as hearing loss progresses, it may still be difficult to hear speech and understand conversations, even when using powerful hearing aids. This is when a cochlear implant or a cochlear implant in one ear and a hearing aid in the other ear (bimodal hearing) may be a more effective solution to provide access to clearer sounds. In fact, research shows that 93% of cochlear implant recipients demonstrated significantly improved speech understanding compared to a hearing aid.2; Find out next steps when hearing aids are not enough.

  5. How do I get a cochlear implant?

    One of the first steps to getting a cochlear implant is to have your hearing tested by an audiologist who is trained in cochlear implants and advanced hearing technologies to see if you qualify as a candidate. Cochlear implants help adults with moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears who are not receiving enough benefit when using hearing aids. Cochlear implants can also help children from 9 months to 24 months with bilateral profound sensorineural hearing loss and children from 2 to 17 years of age with bilateral severe-to-profound sensorineural hearing loss. To request an appointment with a Hearing Implant Specialist today, visit our clinic finder.

  6. How long does a cochlear implant last?

    Cochlear designs implant systems to allow access to technology upgrades as they become available without the need for additional surgery. We are constantly innovating hearing solutions for comfort, performance and usability. As a global leader in implantable hearing solutions with our largest investment in research and development, our priority is to continue to bring advanced technology to you for a lifetime.

    Learn more about the latest smart sound processing technology.

  7. Can I have an MRI with a cochlear implant?

    Yes, our newest generation implant called the Nucleus® Profile™ Plus Implant expands our innovative implant portfolio by offering access to MRIs at 1.5 and 3.0 Tesla without the need for magnet removal or head wrapping.3 Learn more about Nucleus Implants.

    Older implant generations have varying MRI access based on the specific implant type. It is important to recognize that there are alternative diagnostic imaging tools to replace an MRI, such as a CT scan. The most appropriate imaging tool should be discussed with your medical professional care team. Learn more about MRI considerations.


Please seek advice from your health professional about treatments for hearing loss. Outcomes may vary, and your health professional will advise you about the factors which could affect your outcome. Always read the instructions for use. Not all products are available in all countries. Please contact your local Cochlear representative for product information.

Views expressed are those of the individual. Consult your health professional to determine if you are a candidate for Cochlear technology.

For a full list of Cochlear’s trademarks, please visit our Terms of Use page.

*Covered for beneficiaries who meet their insurance plans coverage criteria and covered for Medicare beneficiaries who meet CMS coverage criteria. Coverage for adult Medicaid recipients varies according to state specific guidelines. Contact your insurance provider or hearing implant specialist to determine your eligibility for coverage.


  1. Balkany T, Hodges A, Menapace C, et al. Nucleus Freedom North American clinical trial. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2007;136(5):757-762.
  2. Clinical Evaluation of the Cochlear Nucleus CI532 Cochlear Implants in Adults Investigator Meeting. 2019 Apr
  3. MRI Guidelines D774756.