Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  Cochlear Implant Surgery: Before Your Child's Surgery

Main Content

Cochlear Implant Surgery: Before Your Child's Surgery

What is cochlear implant surgery?

A cochlear implant is a small electronic device. It can help with hearing for a child with severe or total hearing loss. The implant does the job of damaged or missing nerve cells. A small device worn outside the ear turns on the implant.

The doctor will make a cut (incision) behind your child's ear. The doctor will place the implant in the inner ear. The incision will leave a scar that will fade with time. The implant may make a small bump under the skin behind the ear. Your child's hair may cover the scar, the bump, and the device worn outside the ear.

Make sure that your child gets all of the required vaccines at least 2 weeks before cochlear implant surgery.

Most children go home the same day of the surgery or the next day. They can go back to school or daycare in 1 week and normal activities in 3 to 4 weeks.

Your child's hearing will not change right after surgery. The change won't happen until the implant is turned on 3 to 6 weeks later. This gives the ear time to heal.

A cochlear implant can improve how well your child understands speech and speaks. It will not give your child normal hearing. How well your child's implant works depends on many things. These include how long your child has been unable to hear and how well sound signals travel to the brain through the auditory nerve. You and your child will work with a speech therapist after surgery to learn how to make the most of the implant.

How do you prepare for surgery?

Surgery can be stressful for both your child and you. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your child's surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Make sure that your child gets all of the required vaccines at least 2 weeks before the surgery.
  • Talk to your child about the surgery. Tell your child that the surgery will improve your child's hearing. Hospitals know how to take care of children. The staff will do all they can to make it easier for your child.
  • Ask if a special tour of the surgery area and hospital is available. This may make your child feel less nervous about what happens.
  • Plan for your child's recovery time. Your child may need more of your time right after the surgery, both for care and for comfort.
  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell the doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products your child takes. Some may increase the risk of problems during the surgery. Your doctor will tell you if your child should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.

The day before surgery

  • A nurse may call you (or you may need to call the hospital). This is to confirm the time and date of your child's surgery and answer any questions.
  • Remember to follow your doctor's instructions about your child taking or stopping medicines before surgery. This includes over-the-counter medicines.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when your child should stop eating and drinking. If you don't, the surgery may be cancelled. If the doctor told you to have your child take any medicines on the day of surgery, have your child take them with only a sip of water.
  • Have your child take a bath or shower before you come in. Do not apply lotion or deodorant.
  • Your child may brush their teeth. But tell your child not to swallow any toothpaste or water.
  • Do not let your child wear contact lenses. Bring your child's glasses or contact lens case.
  • Be sure your child has something that reminds them of home. A special stuffed animal, toy, or blanket may be comforting. For an older child, it might be a book or music.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • A parent or legal guardian must accompany your child.
  • Your child will be kept comfortable and safe by the anesthesia provider. Your child will be asleep during the surgery.
  • The surgery will take about 2 to 5 hours.
  • After surgery, your child will be taken to the recovery room. As your child wakes up, the recovery room staff will monitor your child's condition. The doctor will talk to you about the surgery.
  • You will probably be able to take your child home 2 to 4 hours after the surgery. Or your child may need to stay in the hospital overnight

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare your child for the surgery.
  • Your child becomes ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about your child having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

Enter E586 in the search box to learn more about "Cochlear Implant Surgery: Before Your Child's Surgery".

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.