Intracochlear inflammatory response to cochlear implant electrodes in humans

Otol Neurotol. 2014 Oct;35(9):1545-51. doi: 10.1097/MAO.0000000000000540.


Hypothesis: This study evaluates the types and degrees of tissue response adjacent to the electrode of multichannel cochlear implants.

Background: Cochlear implant electrodes have been classified as biocompatible prostheses. Nevertheless, in some reports, electrode extrusion, chronic inflammation, and even soft failure of the implant system have been attributed to a tissue response to the electrode.

Methods: All celloidin-embedded temporal bones with multichannel cochlear implants from the temporal bone collection of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary were included in the study. A total of 28 temporal bones from 21 subjects were identified and processed for histology. The severity of cellular response including eosinophil and lymphocytic infiltration, giant cell reaction, new bone formation, and fibrosis were scored on a scale from 0 to 3 at three 1-mm segments along the electrode: first 1 mm at the cochleostomy, last 1 mm from the tip of the electrode, and midway between these proximal and distal segments. The values were compared using the Wilcoxon test.

Results: A granulomatous reaction to the electrode was observed in 27 (96.4%) temporal bones. Eosinophil infiltration was observed in 7 (25%) temporal bones, suggesting an allergic reaction. The Inflammatory response to the electrode was significantly greater at the basal turn of cochlea close to the cochleostomy (p < 0.05) than distal to it.

Conclusion: An inflammatory response is common after cochlear implantation, and it is more robust at the cochleostomy than distal to it, suggesting the role of trauma of insertion as a contributing factor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cadaver
  • Cochlea / surgery
  • Cochlear Implantation / adverse effects*
  • Cochlear Implants / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / etiology*
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Temporal Bone / pathology*