Cochlear Implantation Evaluation

Why is an evaluation necessary and what should I expect?

Candidates must meet specific criteria in order to receive a cochlear implant. The candidate is evaluated on an outpatient basis over a one-to-two day period at UCSF. Patients are selected for cochlear implantation based on medical and audiological histories and test results, findings and recommendations of the psychological interview, educational placement, family support and therapy services available for the pediatric candidate. Cochlear implantation is covered by most health insurance providers including Medicare and Medi-Cal. Due to the number of procedures, the evaluation generally takes more than one day to complete. In addition to the formal test measures, considerable time is spent discussing the components of the device and their function, the surgical process as well as the benefits and limitations of a cochlear implant. The evaluation process differs slightly between adults and children.

What are the components of the cochlear implant evaluation?

  1. Medical Evaluation
    The medical evaluation is conducted by the cochlear implant surgeon. During your visit, your physician will take a medical history, examine the ears, review CT and MRI images and explain the surgical process to the patient. All cochlear implant surgeons belong to the Department of Otolaryngology at UCSF.
  2. CT Scan and/or MRI
    Medical imaging for the cochlear implant surgery is completed in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging. These images produce important pictures of the inner ear that allow the surgeon to evaluate the ear's internal structure, recommend which ear to implant and may provide information as to the cause of deafness.
  3. Audiological Evaluation
    The audiological evaluation consists of a hearing test to confirm type and degree of hearing loss, a hearing aid evaluation to assess benefit provided by hearing aids, and aided speech recognition testing to determine whether a hearing aid provides greater benefit than that anticipated with the implant.
  4. Psychological Screening
    A psychological screening is recommended to assess the candidate's feelings about hearing loss, the cochlear implant, reasons for seeking the implant and to evaluate expectations about the cochlear implant.
  5. Cochlear Implant Counseling/Orientation Session
    The purpose of the counseling and orientation session is to review and discuss the components of the device, and the possible benefits and limitations of implantation. Based on the results from the entire evaluation, the team will make a recommendation in favor of or against implantation.
  6. Listening Therapy Evaluation (Aural Rehabilitation)
    Rehabilitation services are provided by a Speech and Language Pathologist with special knowledge in the area of aural rehabilitation at UCSF, as well as the Hearing and Speech Center of Northern California. These services aim to establish your baseline listening skills using your hearing aids before receiving a cochlear implant, to explain what post-implant aural rehabilitation (listening therapy) is about and to discuss the role of aural rehabilitation in helping you maximize your listening skills.