Can we prevent cochlear implant recipients from developing pneumococcal meningitis?

Clin Infect Dis. 2008 Jan 1;46(1):e1-7. doi: 10.1086/524083.


The restoration of hearing to persons with severely or profoundly impaired hearing by means of a cochlear implant is one of the great achievements of bionics applied to medicine. However, pneumococcal meningitis in implant recipients has received high profile public attention as a result of the US Food and Drug Administration's public health notification and recent media attention. Worldwide, 118 of the 60,000 people who received cochlear implants over the past 20 years have acquired meningitis, causing deep concern in the international medical community. This review provides answers to pediatricians, internists, and infectious diseases doctors who have patients with cochlear implants and who have questions about the safety of the cochlear implant from both the clinical and scientific research perspectives. Both clinical and laboratory research support the notion that pneumococcal meningitis is more likely in patients who receive cochlear implantation, and that the surgical insertion technique and the cochlear implant design should be nontraumatic, and that all cochlear implant recipients should be offered vaccination against Streptococcus pneumoniae.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis / methods
  • Cochlear Implants / adverse effects*
  • Cochlear Implants / microbiology
  • Equipment Contamination / prevention & control
  • Hearing
  • Humans
  • Meningitis, Pneumococcal / microbiology
  • Meningitis, Pneumococcal / prevention & control*
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / isolation & purification


  • Pneumococcal Vaccines