The implant is surgically placed under the skin behind the ear. The basic parts of the device include:
- one or more microphones which picks up sound from the environment
- a speech processor which selectively filters sound to prioritize audible speech, splits the sound into channels and sends the electrical sound signals through a thin cable to the transmitter,
- a transmitter, which is a coil held in position by a magnet placed behind the external ear, and transmits power and the processed sound signals across the skin to the internal device by electromagnetic induction,
- a receiver and stimulator secured in bone beneath the skin, which converts the signals into electric impulses and sends them through an internal cable to electrodes,
- an array of up to 22 electrodes wound through the cochlea, which send the impulses to the nerves in the scala tympani and then directly to the brain through the auditory nerve system. There are 4 manufacturers for cochlear implants, and each one produces a different implant with a different number of electrodes. The number of channels is not a primary factor upon which a manufacturer is chosen; the signal processing algorithm is also another important block.