Skip to content
This content is from our sponsor. The sponsor has sole editorial control.

What Is a Cochlear Implant System for Hearing Loss?

Common Questions about Cochlear Implants

For an individual with severe-to-profound hearing loss who does not benefit from a hearing aid, a cochlear implant may be an effective long-term solution.

What is a cochlear implant system?

It's an electronic device that replaces the natural hearing function of the inner ear.

What does it look like?

It has two parts: an external sound processor worn over the ear, and an implant inserted during a surgical procedure.

How is it different from a hearing aid?

Hearing aids amplify sound. Cochlear implants bypass the damaged part of the inner ear by sending electrical signals from the cochlea directly to the hearing nerve.

How a Cochlear Implant Works

Cochlear implant systems convert everyday sounds into coded electrical pulses. These electrical pulses stimulate the auditory nerve, and the brain interprets the pulses as sound. The brain receives sound information within microseconds, so sounds are heard as they occur.

Ear Anatomy with Implant
  1. Sound is picked up by the microphone of the audio processor.
  2. The audio processor analyzes and codes sounds into a special pattern of digital information.
  3. This information is sent to the coil and transmitted across the skin to the implant.
  4. The implant interprets the code and sends the electrical pulses to the electrodes in the cochlea.
  5. The auditory nerve picks up these signals and sends them to the auditory center in the brain. The brain recognizes these signals as sound.

Once the signals reach the brain, the cochlear implant user hears. This entire process happens many thousands of times each second!

The MAESTRO Cochlear Implant System from MED-EL

MAESTRO Cochlear Implant System

Cochlear implant users in over 80 countries benefit from MED-EL's advanced cochlear implant technology. MED-EL offers a variety of hearing implant systems in order to provide optimized solutions for various degrees of hearing loss, including the MAESTRO Cochlear Implant System.

An Ideal Fit

MED-EL's light and thin OPUS 2, the world's smallest audio processor, was developed to provide excellent performance with a comfortable fit, ideal for all ages. The audio processor is offered in 13 different color options and 7 different wearing options, allowing users to choose what is right for them, whether they wish to blend in or stand out.

The particularly small and thin MED-EL CONCERT titanium cochlear implant makes it the ideal choice for adults and especially for children, so that the device can be easily placed under the skin behind the ears of even the smallest children.

Made Easy For Your Convenience

Young Girl Resting Head On Hands Smiling

MED-EL's MAESTRO Cochlear Implant system was designed with a wide variety of unique features to ensure ease of use, including:

  • Interchangeable wearing options, including special options for children, enable MED-EL audio processors to adapt to individual needs, lifestyles and activities as well as the changing requirements of growing children.
  • Automatic Sound Management has been integrated into MED-EL's processing technology because life happens in both quiet and noisy environments. MED-EL's unique Automatic Sound Management technology for MAESTRO is designed to detect changing listening situations on the go, adapting automatically so the user does not have to.
  • The FineTuner Remote Control is easy to use, making the OPUS 2 audio processor switch-free. Most users do not feel the need to make adjustments or change programs during the day, but when the need arises, they can easily change settings without removing the processor from the ear and without interrupting hearing, simply by using the FineTuner. It is:
    • Easy to use with no confusing menus and single-click access to all options
    • Pocket-size ready, thin and light
    • Ideal for users who have trouble seeing or using small controls
    • Perfect for bilateral users because one remote controls both processors
  • Universal Connectivity supports the ability to easily "plug and play" with a wide variety of assistive listening devices:

The built-in telecoil, a miniature receiver, provides users access to induction loop technology and can be used with various telephones and public sound systems at the simple touch of a button. The telecoil settings are independent of all other processor settings and can be used with any program choice, volume, or sensitivity setting.

The standard 3-pin input jack on the FM Battery Pack Cover enables direct connection of other devices, such as an iPod® or FM system, to the audio processor. The universal audio cable can be used with any battery-powered devices equipped with a standard headphone port. Even Bluetooth® connections are possible with third party Bluetooth receivers.

Ensuring a Hearing Future

Listening Implant

MED-EL's unique, soft, and flexible electrode arrays are the only ones that take advantage of the entire cochlea, enabling all the available nerve fibers to be stimulated, which provides hearing more like nature intended. The soft and flexible design is intended to preserve as many of the delicate structures of the inner ear as possible so that patients have the best chance to take advantage of whatever technologies the future may hold, while still providing the best possible performance now.

MED-EL also offers a variety of electrode options to ensure the perfect fit for every person's unique cochlear anatomy. By providing a variety of electrodes, a surgeon will have the best chance of achieving the proper electrode insertion for the implant recipient.

Instrumental to Appreciating Music

Woman Listening to Music Via Earphones

MED-EL cochlear implants are made with FineHearing technology for better music appreciation and hearing in noisy environments. This technology provides greater accuracy than ever before, so it allows listeners to detect smaller differences in pitch and perceive a wider range of tones, including music.

In a clinical trial, users of the Fine Structure Processing1 coding strategy reported that:

  • listening to music was a pleasant experience
  • they listened to music frequently
  • they were better able to recognize individual instruments in a known piece of music

1FSP is not indicated for use by prelingual children in the US.

Proven Quality and Reliability

MED-EL cochlear implants are made according to the highest safety standards for long-term reliability, durability and performance. We use only the highest quality materials and the products are submitted to the strictest testing procedures. Additionally, MED-EL publishes reliability data online so it is honest, straightforward and easy to access. This data is updated regularly and available to anyone to see.

For more information about cochlear implants, to find out if you might be a candidate for this device, or for a list of cochlear implant centers near you, please visit

© 2014 MED-EL

WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment.