Cochlear implant (CI)

Middle ear implant
The auditory nerve is stimulated electrically following a cochlear implant in people who are (almost) deaf and cannot be treated satisfactorily with traditional hearing aids.


Multidisciplinary university centre for speech therapy and audiology
  • You always need a referral from a physician, therapist or supporting organisation such the CLB or a home support organisation. 

  • +32 16 33 23 34 - on Tuesdays from 8.30 to 12.30 hrs and from 13.30 to 16.30 hrs.

  • At the moment there is a waiting time of 6 months for toddlers and children in the first grade, and 8 months for children from the second grade onwards.

How does a cochlear implant work?

When the hair cells in the cochlea (snail shell) of the inner ear are damaged, a cochlear implant (CI) can directly stimulate the hearing nerve.

Internal and external components

A CI consists of an internal and an external component, which are held together by magnets.

  • The microphone on the external component picks up and transmits sounds from the environment to the speech processor. The latter analyses and processes the sound into code, which is then transmitted from the external to the internal component.
  • The internal chip determines which electrodes in the cochlea need to be stimulated. These electrical impulses stimulate the auditory nerve, which relays signals to the brain, which recognises these signals as sounds.


Cochlear implant

Cochlear implant

Reimbursement of the cost of a cochlear implant

Who qualifies for reimbursement of the cost of a cochlear implant?

  • Children and adults with severe hearing loss in both ears, who cannot be treated satisfactorily with traditional hearing aids.
  • The hearing loss must be at least 70 dBHL (decibels hearing level) and understanding of speech without a traditional hearing aid must not exceed 50%.
  • Because the electrical signals are transmitted directly to the auditory nerve it has to be intact and receptive to stimulation.
  • Children below the age of 12 may qualify for a cochlear implant in both ears.

What happens before, during and after a cochlear implant?

Read more about preliminary examinations, the operation, technical adjustments, hearing training and speech therapy.


Last edit: 11 January 2024