Cochlear Implants and Other Implantable Devices

Providing Advanced Hearing Technology and Expert Care

Cochlear Implants

A cochlear implant is an electronic device that provides meaningful sound information to people who receive limited benefit from hearing aids.   Stony Brook Medicine is one of the few medical centers in the region that performs cochlear implantation. 

The Stony Brook Cochlear Implant Team

The Stony Brook Team is comprised of the Surgeon, Huseyin Isildak, MD, Audiologists and Speech Language Pathologists. Social Work, Neuropsychology, Genetics and Developmental Pediatrics are available at Stony Brook for consultation when needed.  These highly trained healthcare professionals work together to provide comprehensive services that improve the lives of the recipients and their families.   

Stony Brook has been performing cochlear implants since 1995.  Our staff have received extensive training in preoperative and postoperative cochlear implant assessments and programming.      

How do we hear?

Sound waves travel into the ear canal and vibrate the ear drum, middle ear bones and inner ear. The cochlea is a snail shaped part of the inner ear that contains thousands of tiny hair cells. The hair cells change the vibrations into signals that stimulate the hearing nerve and send impulses to the brain where it becomes meaningful sound.

How does a cochlear implant work?

Damage to the tiny cochlea hair cells will cause a disruption in the transmission of the signals to the auditory nerve. The resulting hearing loss is called a sensorineural hearing loss.  The cochlear implant is designed to compensate for the damaged cochlea hair cells and stimulate the auditory nerve directly. 

 The cochlear implant system has two components:

  • Externally worn microphone, sound processor and transmitter
  • Implanted receiver and electrode array

The microphone captures incoming sound and sends it to the speech processor, where it is translated into a distinctive electrical code. The coded information is then transmitted across the skin to the receiver and electrode array.  The electrodes stimulate the auditory nerve fibers, causing electrical impulses to be delivered to the brain, where they are interpreted as meaningful sound.

Who can benefit from a cochlear implant?

Cochlear implant candidacy changes as a result of improved technology so that more individuals are eligible for cochlear implants.  

Adult Candidacy

  • Moderate to profound sensorineural hearing loss in both ears
  • Profound sensorineural hearing loss in one ear
  • Limited benefit from adequately fit hearing aids
  • A strong desire for improved hearing

Children 5-17 years 

  • Severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss in both ears
  • Profound sensorineural hearing loss in one ear
  • Limited benefit from adequately fit hearing aids
  • Enrollment in a program that emphasizes auditory skills and verbal speech
  • A strong desire for improved hearing

Children 2-5 years

  • Severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss in both ears
  • Limited benefit from adequately fit hearing aids
  • Enrollment in a program that emphasizes auditory skills and verbal speech

Children 6 months-23 months

  • Profound sensorineural hearing loss in both ears
  • Limited benefit from adequately fit hearing aids
  • Enrollment in a program that emphasizes auditory skills and verbal speech

What can I expect from the surgery?
The surgery is performed under general anesthesia and takes about 2-3 hours. Most people go home on the same day and resume normal activities within a week.  Complete healing at the implant site takes approximately 2-3 weeks.

What follow-up is necessary?
The speech processor is initially fit approximately 3 weeks after the surgery. The recipient and audiologist work together to program the electrodes and make a Map that is set into the processor. Regular sessions are needed as the person adapts to the new sound. For children, speech and language progress is monitored, comparing performance before and after the implant. The cochlear implant specialists maintain close contact with the child’s school. Speech therapy for adults is available depending on the patient's needs. 

How much will my hearing improve after the implant?
Cochlear implants have a very high success rate. Thousands of people have received cochlear implants, and almost all have achieved higher levels of performance than before implantation. However, it is difficult to predict the exact outcome for each person. Success depends on factors such as duration of deafness, degree of hearing loss prior to implantation and age at implantation.

Will my insurance cover the procedure?
Cochlear implantation surgery is covered by most medical insurance policies. Our staff will discuss insurance with you and obtain a preauthorization prior to surgery.

How do I make an appointment?
In order to serve our patients better and ensure we allow enough time to fully evaluate each person's candidacy, our cochlear implant specialists will need some past history. Please complete the appropriate history form and sign the release of information listing all of the Audiologist, ENTs and hearing aid dispensers you have seen over the last 5 years.  Fax the forms to (631) 444-4582 or send a secure e-mail to  When we receive the results, we will call you for an appointment.

Osseointegrated Hearing Devices

The Osseointegrated hearing device is an electronic hearing system that stimulates the bone behind the ear and sends sound to the inner ear.  The internal prosthesis is implanted under the skin on the bone behind the ear.  The external processor is connected to the internal receiver by a magnet on both components.  

Candidates for this type of device include people with outer of middle ear hearing loss (conductive hearing loss) or those with single sided deafness (profound hearing loss in one ear).  

Conductive Hearing Loss

Some people with conductive hearing loss cannot use a typical hearing aid due to a malformed ear or a greater level of hearing loss.  People with a malformed ear that can not physically wear a hearing aid in or behind the ear can benefit from an implantable hearing device.  Also people who have a hearing loss at a level where the hearing aid produces whistling or feedback when worn can benefit from an implantable device.  The sound is transferred directly to the inner ear.  People with conductive hearing loss achieves the most  benefit from the osseointegrated device.

Single sided deafness

People with normal hearing in one ear and profound hearing loss in the other, can benefit from osseointegrated implantable devices.  The implant on the poorer ear transfers sounds (through the skull) to the inner ear of the opposite side or normal hearing ear.  The implant can help people hear sounds better on the side of the poorer ear and provide better quality of sound.  

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