Cochlear Implants

Dr. Casserly

Ryan Casserly, MD

Restore your hearing with cochlear implants — advanced technology that improves sound and clarity more than hearing aids. You’ll benefit from the specialized training of Dr. Ryan Casserly, California’s only cochlear implant surgeon between San Jose and Los Angeles. You’ll also have support from audiologists (doctors of hearing science) and Montage Health surgical staff. They’ll help you more easily hear and understand the people around you, so you can enjoy better relationships and higher quality of life.

What are cochlear implants?

A cochlear implant treats deafness due to problems affecting your inner ear’s cochlea, which sends sound signals to your brain. A virus, an injury, or the natural aging process can stop the cochlea from working as it should.

Unlike hearing aids, cochlear implants don’t make noises louder. Instead, they send sound signals directly to your auditory nerve, bypassing the damaged inner ear. This means a cochlear implant changes how you hear.

Who can receive a cochlear implant?

Ask about a cochlear implant for yourself or a loved one of almost any age who:

  • Has already learned to speak
  • Has severe hearing loss in one or both ears
  • Can’t understand speech well even with a hearing aid

In addition to improving your hearing, cochlear implants can also relieve tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

Insurance & referrals

Contact your health insurance provider to learn if you need a doctor’s referral to see a cochlear implant surgeon. You don’t need a referral if you have Medicare.

Evaluation and hearing tests

To find out if you qualify for a cochlear implant, you’ll meet an audiologist in Dr. Casserly’s office for a hearing test without your hearing aids. The doctor will review the results, check your ears, and order a computed tomography (CT) scan to make sure it’s safe to implant the cochlear device.

If your CT scan shows you’re eligible for an implant, you’ll see the audiologist again for a second, specialized hearing test. This evaluation checks your ability to understand words while you’re wearing hearing aids. If the hearing aids don’t provide enough clarity, a cochlear implant may be a good option to improve your hearing.

Choosing a cochlear implant

If you decide to receive a cochlear implant, your doctor will help you choose from several devices. Each option includes:

  • Electrode placed surgically inside your ear
  • Small external piece with a microphone that sits behind your ear

Select the device that best matches your preferences for comfort, ease of use, features, and appearance. You’ll get just one cochlear implant at a time, so if you have hearing loss in both ears, ask about your options for a device that will work well with the hearing aid in your other ear.

Cochlear implant surgery

It takes two or three hours to surgically place the electrode in your ear. Your procedure will be scheduled at the Outpatient Surgery Center on the campus of Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula.

You’ll receive general anesthesia, which makes you sleep and prevents pain. You can return home the same day, but will need someone to drive you. Learn more about what to expect and how to prepare for surgery.

Post-operative healing

The surgical incision behind your ear must heal before you can wear the external device. You will see your surgeon a week after the procedure to check the incision. If it’s healing well, you can likely start using the external device three to four weeks following surgery.

Device activation and aural rehabilitation

An audiologist will activate your cochlear device and test different settings until you find the one that helps you hear best. You’ll visit an audiologist several times over the first six months to adjust the technology and learn to adapt to it, just as you did when you first received hearing aids. Through aural (hearing) rehabilitation, your care team will help you get used to your device and receive the most benefit from it.

Follow-up appointments

Visit your surgeon’s office at least once a year. Your care team will check your hearing and install any updates your cochlear device manufacturer provides to enhance the technology.

Second cochlear implant

Ask about a cochlear implant for your other ear if you meet both these criteria:

  • You have severe hearing loss in both ears
  • You don’t hear words clearly enough after optimizing your first cochlear implant

Expect to take the same specialized hearing test you received before the first surgical procedure. You’ll continue to get personalized care from familiar experts who make you feel comfortable. Work with them to achieve your best possible outcome over the long term.

Get an evaluation

Call (831) 649-4000 to ask if a cochlear implant may be right for you or your loved one. 

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