You may want to read the section "what is a cochlear implant" first, to help you better understand what the surgery involves.
The day of surgery is stressful for every family. Since children are asked not to eat for 12 hours before the surgery, they often arrive at the hospital slightly cranky. This can add even more stress to the day.
The surgery usually takes 2-3 hours. The surgeon makes an incision behind the ear and drills through the bone. This way he is able to enter the middle ear just behind the ear drum.
The cochlea (inner ear) has two "windows": the oval window and the round window. The surgeon drills through the area near the round window to have a place to insert the tiny coil with its electrodes. The coil with its electrodes is laid down inside the cochlea.
The internal component looks like this. The smaller end at the top of the picture has the coil with the electrodes.
The body (larger end) of the implant is held in place under the skin behind the ear by strong thread. The cut is then closed and is covered with bandages to reduce swelling and prevent infection.
After the surgery, a nurse will take your child to his or her hospital room. Your child will wake up soon after getting to the room. Many children are irritable and others often fall back to sleep. Some children will have quite a bit of swelling.
After 1 night in the hospital the surgeon will usually remove the bandage and your child can go home. Most children are back to their active selves at this point and return to school within 1 week. For this first week it is especially important that parents help to keep the incision dry and clean.
After the Surgery
Following the surgery, the child's cochlear implant is not immediately activated. Three weeks after the surgery, the external equipment is provided to allow the child some time to become accustomed to wearing the device. One week after that (four weeks after the surgery), the cochlear implant is activated. (Older children may not need a week to adjust to the equipment and may instead have a combined appointment to receive the external equipment and activate the implant on the same day.)