Infectious complications in pediatric cochlear implants

Michael T. Hopfenspirger, Samuel C. Levine, Frank L. Rimell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Infectious complications may cause significant delay in cochlear implant device initiation and programming and be a source of additional morbidity. We reviewed our experience with infectious complications in the pediatric age group to determine specific sources that may not be seen in adults. STUDY DESIGN: A retrospective analysis from a single implant center. METHODS: Cases of pediatric cochlear implants were reviewed for data on infectious complications. Complications were identified as "major" or "minor," "early" or "delayed." Information was gathered regarding any comorbid, chronic health condition. Data related to the causative organism(s) were collected. RESULTS: Two hundred sixty-eight cases of pediatric implants were reviewed. Twenty-two cases were identified (an infection rate of 8.2%), all classified as "major." The majority, 12, were classified as "delayed" complications. Twenty-one cases required explantation with 14 successfully reimplanted. Five cases (in 4 patients) or 23% were associated with a specific chronic pediatric condition including two children with tracheostomies. Among implanted children who had chronic health conditions, 42% developed implant-related infections. Among otherwise healthy implanted children, only 6.6% developed implant-related infections. Resistant bacterial infections were not identified. CONCLUSIONS: Health conditions in the pediatric age group were associated with 23% of our complications, a risk factor not previously identified in the literature. These children, demonstrating seven times the infection rate of healthy children, should be carefully observed postoperatively. Overall, cochlear implantation in children continues to be associated with a low risk of infectious complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1825-1829
Number of pages5
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • Cochlear implant
  • Infection

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