Surgical and medical management for complications in 475 consecutive pediatric cochlear implantations

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2013 Apr;77(4):473-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2012.12.009. Epub 2013 Jan 3.


Objective: The purpose of this study is to assess complications occurring after cochlear implantation (CI) in children and to discuss revision surgeries and medical interventions occurring during follow-up.

Study design: Retrospective study of 475 consecutive pediatric cochlear implantations at a tertiary referral center.

Methods: The patients (n = 475) who received cochlear implants in our institution between March 2000 and March 2012 were followed up (range, 5 months-12 years). All complications were systematically reviewed, and their causes were analyzed for prevention and therapy.

Results: All children received unilateral CI. Mean age at implantation was 3 years 7 months (ranged from 10 months to 18 years). Forty-three patients (9%) experienced complications. Twenty-one patients (4.4%) had major complications, consisting of device failure (10 patients), flap necrosis (4 patients), meningitis (2 patients), electrode shifting (2 patients), hematoma (2 patients) and magnet migration (1 patient). Twenty-two (4.6%) had minor complications, consisting of acute otitis media (5 patients), skin lesion due to pressure reaction in contralateral ear during surgery (4 patients), flap swelling (3 patients), minor wound infection (3 patients), transient facial paralysis (2 patients), transient vertigo (2 patients), hematoma (1 patient), facial stimulation (1 patient), subcutaneous emphysema (1 patient). Complications led to reimplantation in 13 (30.2%) and other revision surgery in 7 (16.2%) of the 43 patients. One patient with meningitis cured with medical treatment and 22 patients with minor complications cured with either medical treatment or spontaneously.

Conclusions: Cochlear implantation is a safe technique in experienced hands with a relatively low complication rate. Long term follow up is mandatory to minimize and control surgical complication.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cochlear Implantation / adverse effects*
  • Cochlear Implants / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome