MED-EL South Africa!

Have you been affected by hearing loss?
Find out here how MED-EL can help you with our innovative hearing solutions.

About MED-EL South Africa

MED-EL founders, Dr. Ingeborg and Dr. Erwin Hochmair changed the world when they invented the modern micro electric multichannel cochlear implant nearly 40 years ago. This high-tech device allowed people with profound hearing loss to not only hear, but to speak, and to communicate with their loved ones like never before.

Fast forward to the present day, thousands of people in 135 countries worldwide hear, thanks to MED-EL devices. Our dedicated team in South Africa is here to support people with their hearing journey. We have a network of professionals who will guide you in finding the right solution for your hearing loss. You are at the start of an amazing hearing journey.


Types of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is surprisingly common in South Africa. It can have many different causes including meningitis, ear infections and other illnesses.

Approximately 2 million people in South Africa have disabling hearing loss.1
Each year approximately 6000 children are born with hearing loss in South Africa.2
2 out of every 100 children living in South Africa have profound hearing loss.1

Bringing Sound to Life

We believe everyone should be able to enjoy a life filled with sound. If you or a family member has hearing loss, don’t lose hope. Around the world, hundreds of thousands of people are able to hear, thanks to a hearing implant.

Rehabilitation Downloads

Rehabilitation Downloads

Rehabilitation is a vital part of learning to hear with a cochlear implant. These resources will help you get the most out of your new hearing.

MED-EL South Africa

FAQ Section

Find more information to everyday questions about our hearing devices.

Hearing loss is a partial or total inability to hear. Hearing loss can be present from birth (congenital) or develop throughout the different stages of life. Certain medical conditions, exposure to loud sounds, certain medications, previous surgeries to the ear, the aging process, or genetic conditions can cause it. There are many treatments for hearing loss, including hearing aids and hearing implants.

Hearing implant systems are designed to restore hearing to individuals who do not receive adequate benefit from hearing aids. A hearing implant system is the combination of an internal implant and an external audio processor. There are different types of hearing implants – such as a cochlear implant, middle ear implant, or bone conduction implant – designed for different types of hearing loss.

Although both hearing aids and hearing implants are designed to improve an individual’s hearing, the way in which they function differs.

A hearing aid is an externally worn device that aims to improve hearing through amplification of sound. This is typically effective for mild to moderately severe hearing losses. Hearing aids are contra-indicated for certain conditions of the ear such a chronic ear infection.

A hearing implant consists of a surgically implanted device under the skin and an externally worn audio processor. Sound is picked up by the audio processor and transmitted directly to the inner ear for transmission to the brain. Hearing implants are indicated for those who do not receive adequate benefit from hearing aids.

The first step is to contact your doctor or audiologist, who will be able to arrange a hearing test, and discuss the different options with you. You can find you’re nearest clinic using the Clinic Finder on this page, or contact your local MED-EL office using the form below.

The answer from patients differs and depends on the individual and their hearing history. MED-EL has designed cochlear implants for better hearing in everyday life – even in noisy settings like busy restaurants. According to a published study, recipients that had a different brand in one ear and later received a MED-EL implant for the other ear state that with the MED-EL implant they enjoy a more natural sound quality.

You can ask your audiologist if they are able to put you in contact with a CI user or parent who is willing to share their experiences. You can also join the HearPeers Forum and community to connect with current CI users.

Yes, this is called bimodal hearing. MED-EL CI’s allow you to wear different brands of hearing aids on your other ear, so you are not restricted in your choice of hearing aid.

Yes, it is possible to use a different brand of a cochlear implant on each ear. Keep in mind that different systems have different batteries and other accessories.  Your audiologist should also be trained on the software of both the implanted CI's.

Yes, individuals with hearing implants can lead active lives with few restrictions.

It is important to protect the implanted area from a direct impact. MED-EL offers safety clips and headbands to make sure that the processor are adequately protected. Waterproof WaterWear covers should be used with the audio processor when taking part in water sports.

MED-EL audio processors are designed with music enjoyment in mind and to enable a more natural sound quality.

In addition, all currently available MED-EL CI audio processors can connect to audio devices using various accessories. This includes smartphones, MP3 players, and other personal audio devices.

Yes, metal detectors or security screening devices will not affect the function of the implant. However, because the implant contains metal components, MED-EL will provide you with a recipient ID card to use at security checkpoints that you should always have with you. Inform the security staff at the checkpoints that you have a CI. In addition, by removing and switching off the processor before going through the security scan, it will ensure that your maps will not be affected.

Cochlear implants are typically recommended for individuals with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss who is not able to receive adequate benefit from hearing aids. Before receiving a cochlear implant, the patient is required to undergo a series of assessments to ensure suitable candidacy. This assessment is conducted by your local cochlear implant team and includes consultations with an audiologist, an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) surgeon and other professionals.

Children as young as 12 months old may be eligible for a cochlear implant. It is recommended that children receive their cochlear implant as early as possible to ensure exposure to sound during the critical period of language acquisition.

Yes. MED-EL cochlear implants since 1994 are MR Conditional. This means you do not have to undergo any further surgery and therefore avoid unnecessary hearing downtime (unless diagnostically required). When having an MRI with any MED-EL cochlear implant, your medical professional should follow the conditions detailed in the instructions for use.

And because we’re dedicated to offering you the outstanding MRI safety, all our cochlear implants since 1994 are covered against damage during an MRI scan by our MRI Guarantee.

Hearing technologies are developing fast and it is very important that patients receive the newest and most up-to-date technology available.

A cochlear implant system consists of 2 components: the internal cochlear implant, which is surgically inserted under the skin as well as the externally worn audio processor. The processor picks up sound and sends it to the implant. The implant is the part that will stay with you for many years, whereas the external audio processor can be upgraded when newer technology becomes available. At MED-EL newer processors are designed in such a way that it is forward/backward compatible.

Residual hearing refers to the ability to hear some sounds in the presence of a hearing loss. MED-EL cochlear implants use flexible electrode arrays that are specifically designed to avoid damaging the delicate structures of your cochlea. This helps you to maintain residual hearing after surgery and supports MED-EL’s design philosophy of protecting natural structures as much as possible.

MED-EL hearing implant systems are state-of-the-art, however new products are being developed all the time. MED-EL’s design philosophy is to protect the natural cochlear structures. The electrode’s design specifically aims at preserving the structure of the inner ear. This means that should new technology becomes available that could possibly repair the hearing loss rather than ‘bridge’ it, patients should be able to benefit from it. It is therefore important that fine and delicate electrodes are used. Furthermore, MED-EL’s cochlear implant audio processors are designed to be compatible with all multi-channel MED-EL cochlear implants. This means that you can easily switch to a spare audio processor for flexible wearing options, or upgrade to the latest processor without changing your implant.

You should always do your own research as a hearing implant will be specific to your own needs. If you have specific questions, please don't hesitate to contact us for the latest published medical studies.

MED-EL cochlear implants are designed and manufactured at our headquarters in Innsbruck, Austria. Strict manufacturing processes ensure that they meet the highest standards of quality and reliability. The good news is, yes: MED-EL cochlear implants are durable- we have designed our cochlear implants to last a lifetime. There are MED-EL recipients who are still hearing with their implants they received more than 20 years ago!

At MED-EL, we have always been committed to honest and transparent reliability reporting. The cochlear implant you choose today, will be part of your life for decades to come. Comprehensive reporting and honest information is what you deserve.

A typical hearing implant surgery lasts from 1-3 hours. Patients are often back on their feet the next day. The length of the hospital stay is usually between one to two days.

Yes, your surgeon will usually request a CT or MRI scan after your first consultation. An X-ray will be performed during surgery to look at the placement of the electrodes.

MED-EL cochlear implants since 1994 are MR Conditional. When having an MRI with any MED-EL cochlear implant, your medical professional should follow the conditions detailed in the instructions for use.

As with any surgery, there are some potential risks to cochlear implantation. The risks involved in cochlear implant surgery are low and are comparable to those associated with other ear surgeries. The design of MED-EL hearing implants allows for minimally invasive surgical techniques. It is best to discuss these aspects with your surgeon in detail before the surgery.

We offer cochlear implants with off-the-ear as well as behind-the-ear audio processors that are easy to use.

In addition, we also provide bone conduction and middle ear implants with off-the-ear audio processors, and a non-surgical bone conduction system suitable for all ages.

If you’re looking for information on your implant, check out the MED-EL homepage. There you can find technical information and rehabilitation materials in several different languages. You can also follow MED-EL South Africa on Facebook for the latest news. 

  • Assessment and evaluation: First you will undergo routine assessments with your audiologist and/or surgeon to ensure you are a candidate for a cochlear implant. There are many criteria that must be met; however your CI team will guide you through the process.
  • Approval from medical aid: Your audiologist can contact MED-EL who will assist with medical aid requests and authorizations. The time-frame for approval will depend on your individual medical aid.
  • Surgery: Once approval from the medical aid has been received you will be contacted so that you can schedule your surgery with your surgeon. Surgery is done in a hospital under general anaesthesia. Your surgeon will provide you with all the necessary information regarding your surgery. Your surgeon will also determine if you should stay overnight in the hospital. Some patients are discharged the same day.
  • Each patient’s recovery is unique. Your surgeon will discuss this with you after surgery.
  • Switch-on: About 3-6 weeks after implantation you will be ready for the processor to be switched on. This “activation day” is when your audiologist will turn on your audio processor for the first time, and you will start to hear your first sounds. The audio settings of your processor will be adjusted to fit your hearing preferences.
  • MAPping: At your switch-on appointment the audiologist will perform your first MAPping. MAPping is where your processor is programmed according to your listening needs. In the beginning, you will need multiple MAPpings as your brain adjusts to sound. This can vary according to your individual progress and needs; your audiologist will advise the best treatment going forward.
  • (Re)habilitation: After activation, it is important to follow up with a rehabilitation program so that you can adapt to hearing through your cochlear implant. This can be done together with speech-language professionals and at-home listening exercises.

This “activation day” is when your audiologist will turn on your audio processor for the first time and you start hearing your first new sounds. Your audiologist will have your processor and accessories available to you on the day. He/she will use specific software to connect to your processor and adjust the audio settings to best fit your hearing needs.

After activation, it is important to follow a rehabilitation programme so that you can adapt to hearing through your cochlear implant. Rehabilitation is essential to make the most of your CI system. It can be done together with speech-language professionals and at home with listening exercises. The involvement of parents, family members, and the social environment of a CI recipient into rehabilitation activities is a vital part of learning to hear with a cochlear implant.

The number of MAPping sessions required will vary for each person. Typically, more frequent MAPpings are required in the beginning and as your map begins to stabilize the time between MAPpings will become longer. Each new MAPping session will be customized to your hearing needs and progress. Your audiologist will be able to advise you regarding the estimated cost of such MAPping sessions. MAPping sessions can usually be paid in cash, or via the medical savings account, depending on your audiologist and medical aid scheme. MED-EL CI’s include a Patient Support Programme that can be used to cover the cost of the MAPping sessions; this is to ensure the device operates to manufacturers specifications and gives you the best hearing outcomes.  The Patient Support Plan can also be used for repairs and spare parts.

The cost of hearing implant surgery depends on several factors. To find out more about your particular situation, it is best to talk to your clinic about the costs involved.

MED-EL does offer their newest CI technology at Discovery medical aid reimbursement rates, to ensure there are no co-payments to patients.  

You will need to consider the following costs:

  • Surgeon consultations – you can ask for a quote beforehand from your surgeon.
  • Audiologist evaluation consultation and mappings – you can ask for a quotation beforehand.
  • CT scan – depending on your medical aid, this is usually done out-of-hospital and payment will depend on your medical aid plan.
  • Rehabilitation – this will depend on the age at which the implantation is done, and if the candidate is pre-or-post-lingual. You will be able to contact your audiologist who can help you with quotes for the cost of implantation, fitting your audio processor, and following up with rehabilitation services.
  • Cochlear Implant System – your implant team will provide you with a quote.
MED-EL recognizes the dire need for the provision of effective and supportive programs, in order to ensure that patients with hearing difficulties are provided with meaningful access to relevant healthcare services. Therefore, a MED-EL Patient Support Programme has been implemented aiming purely and solely to ensure the correct and safe use of the device, as well as enhancing compliance and the proper maintenance of the device.

With every MED-EL Cochlear Implant implanted in South Africa, a Patient Support Programme is included. This support programme shall be used to cover the costs of maintenance of the CI for a period of 3 years from the date of implantation. Furthermore, it covers audiological mapping fees as indicated by SACIG guidelines, spare parts, and repairs to your CI. For further information please get in contact with your local MED-EL office. Terms and conditions apply.

In South Africa, only certain medical aids cover the cost of an upgrade. The amount of medical aid cover depends on your medical aid plan and prosthesis limit. Your audiologist will direct your request to our local office where we can assist you with the application.

There are no surgical procedures involved with receiving a processor upgrade. MED-EL’s Cochlear Implants are forward-and-backward compatible to ensure that you always benefit from the most up to date technology available.

It’s important to keep your audio processor clean and in good working order. Visit the Support pages for more detailed information about your audio processor.

Yes, MED-EL South Africa offers a warranty of 10 years on implants, 3 years on processors and 1 year on spare parts.

Hearing Implant Clinics in South Africa

There are Hearing Implant Clinics right across South Africa who can help you or your child hear again. Find the nearest clinic to you.


Discover More
MED-EL South Africa

The MED-EL South Africa Team

Are you ready to start your hearing journey? Get in touch now by using the form below and take the first steps to better hearing.


MED-EL Implant Systems South Africa (PTY) Ltd
Panorama Healthcare Centre - 2nd Floor, Corner of Hennie Winterbach Street & Rothschild Boulevard
7500 Cape Town
South Africa

Open in Google Maps


Phone: +27 21 100 3366

Read More on Hearing Implants

1 World Health Organization. (2020). Deafness and hearing loss: Fact Sheet. Detail. Deafness and hearing loss. Retrieved from
The World Bank (2020). Databank. World Development Indicators. Retrieved from:

2 Olusanya, B. O., & Newton, V. E. (2007). Global burden of childhood hearing impairment and disease control priorities for developing countries. The Lancet, 369(9569), 1314–1317. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(07)60602-3.
Olusanya, B. O., Neumann, K. J., & Saunders, J. E. (2014). The global burden of disabling hearing impairment: a call to action. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 92(5), 367–373. doi:10.2471/BLT.13.128728.
The World Bank (2020). Databank. World Development Indicators. Retrieved from: