Cochlear Implant Program

Lurie Children’s Cochlear Implant Program is one of the largest pediatric implant and most experienced programs in the world. Founder Nancy Young, MD, has performed more than 1,000 cochlear procedures since 1991. Our multidisciplinary team members believe that collaborating with parents as partners is the best way to ensure that each child we serve has the opportunity to achieve their potential.

A cochlear implant provides information about spoken language and environmental sounds through  stimulation of auditory nerve fibers in the inner ear. The cochlear implant is recognized as a standard treatment for profound deafness by the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery.

Our cochlear implant program treats infants, children and young adults with severe-to-profound  sensorineural (inner ear or nerve) hearing loss in both ears. Our program has special expertise in evaluating deaf infants and toddlers. We evaluate deaf children with complex medical needs as well as those with auditory neuropathy and deafness due to meningitis. We also have experience treating children with malformed inner ears and other challenging anatomy.

We recommend newly identified infants and children be referred to our implant program soon after the diagnosis of significant bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. Early referral permits us to carefully monitor children to determine if their hearing aids will enable development of age appropriate hearing and language skills.

Our goal is to help each child to develop their full communication potential. Improved hearing is critical to optimal language development (spoken and sign). Enriched language is essential for cognitive development of all children.

The Lurie Children’s Difference

Our care extends beyond the implant surgery and integrates therapy, education and resources to aid your child in adjusting to their abilities to hear and comprehend complex sounds. Specialized therapists are available to guide your child as they develop listening and language skills, and educational experts will provide assistance to help you identify educational philosophies, therapies and school placement that best serve your child’s development.

Our cochlear implant team is made up of hearing specialists from many areas, including:

What to Expect

Our treatment begins with an evaluation of your child’s hearing ability. If your child may be an implant candidate, we will first make sure that their hearing cannot be further improved with hearing aids.  Depending on your child’s individual needs, we may recommend placement of a cochlear implant in one or both ears.  Information will be provided to you about all FDA approved cochlear implant systems.

Please bring your child’s vaccination records at time of initial consultation. Because there is a small increased risk of bacterial meningitis associated with having a cochlear implant, we will review your child’s records and recommend necessary vaccinations..

During the implant surgery, internal components are placed into the inner ear and mastoid. The internal components are accompanied by an external microphone and speech processor. Most children return home on the same day as surgery and return to school the following week. Your child will return to Lurie Children’s after two to four weeks for programming of the device. Additional hearing evaluations and programming rechecks will be scheduled throughout the year.

See a detailed description of our diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation process, as well as a list of parents’ frequently asked questions.

Cochlear Implantation Benefits

The benefits of cochlear implantation range from the detection of sounds to understanding speech without lip reading. Research also shows that after implantation, children in oral and total communication programs often significantly increase the rate at which they develop language (spoken language or signed English, depending on the child's primary mode of communication).

Although improved hearing through a cochlear implant provides many benefits to children, parents of deaf infants and young children often wish to know if their child will learn to talk clearly and attend classes with their hearing peers. Children who achieve these goals typically:

  • Receive the implant after a shorter period of deafness
  • Are in programs that provide intensive auditory and speech training
  • Have families firmly committed to the training process

Another important factor is the length of time the child uses the implant. Children who have used their device for more than three years often continue to improve their communication skills.

Our Specialists

Our program began in 1991 and has grown to be one of the largest pediatric implant programs in the world. The founder and medical director is Dr. Young​, whose training includes a fellowship in neurotology (advanced ear surgery). Our pediatric implant audiologists have a wealth of experience, as well as special training in all aspects of pediatric implantation. Our support staff provides expert assistance in obtaining insurance approval for cochlear implants and related services. All FDA approved cochlear implant systems are available for your child at our program.

Make an Appointment

For further information about cochlear implantation, please contact Emily Murray, cochlear implant program assistant, at 312.227.3730 or by e-mail at Emily can assist you with scheduling of your initial appointments. Our cochlear implant services are available at the following locations:

Le​arn More

To learn more about cochlear implants, visit these physician-recommended websites.


Your support is important in helping us continue to make a difference in the lives of patients and families. Lurie Children’s relies on philanthropic funding to enhance its programs, services and research for children. Whether your interest is in furthering research or clinical services, you may choose to direct your gift to help children with hearing loss. 

To learn more, please contact Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Foundation at, call 312.227.7500 or make a gift today. 

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