Medical and surgical complications in pediatric cochlear implantation

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2010 Jan;136(1):12-5. doi: 10.1001/archoto.2009.187.


Objectives: To report complications of cochlear implantation (CI) in children and to analyze risk factors.

Design: Retrospective study from January 1, 1990, through April 30, 2008, with a mean follow-up of 5.5 years (range, 1 month to 17 years).

Setting: Tertiary academic center.

Patients: Four hundred thirty-four patients younger than 16 years. Mean age at CI was 4.7 (range, 0.6-16.0) years. Forty-one children (9.4%) underwent CI when younger than 24 months. Forty-three (9.9%) had inner ear malformations.

Main outcome measures: Complications after CI, classified into early (0-8 days) or delayed (>8 days) and major or minor. Spontaneous failures of internal devices were excluded. Correlation to age at CI, local trauma, and inner ear malformations were analyzed using the chi(2) test.

Results: Forty-three patients (9.9%) experienced complications. Delayed complications occurred in 28 patients (65.1%), with a mean delay of 2.2 (range, 0.1-8.4) years. Twenty-four patients (5.5%) had major complications, consisting of severe cutaneous infections (15 patients), magnet displacement (3), meningitis (2), cholesteatoma (2), cerebrospinal fluid leak (1), and electrode misplacement (1). Nineteen (4.4%) had minor complications, consisting of vertigo (9 patients), soft-tissue infection (5), persistent otitis media (4), and facial palsy (1). Complications led to reimplantation in 13 of the 43 patients (30.2%). Trauma to the mastoid area (14 patients) and inner ear malformations (51) were highly correlated with major delayed complications (P < .001) and early minor complications (P < .001), respectively. Young age at CI was not correlated with any type of complication.

Conclusions: Complications of CI in children are common, with trauma as a major factor. Inner ear malformations should prompt specific preventive management. Cochlear implantation in young children did not appear to be a risk factor in this study.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cochlear Implantation*
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors