Cochlear implantation has become a safe procedure-and, as result of refinements in devices and surgical techniques, complications are atypical. The major complication to be feared is meningitis, which is rare but potentially fatal. Other complications include device breakdown, flap breakdown, and local reactions at the site of implant, and these are manageable, agreed experts interviewed for this article. Although not all otolaryngologists perform cochlear implant surgery, it is important that all otolaryngologists be aware of the possible complications from this type of surgery.
Explore this issue:August 2007
Most surgeons think it is advisable to refer a patient who presents with a complication in the implanted ear to the original treating surgeon. Otolaryngologists are the gatekeepers of ear care. When faced with a problem from a cochlear implant, an otolaryngologist should not hesitate for one minute to call upon the surgeon who did the implant. Cochlear implant surgeons have a lifelong commitment to their patients, and the surgeon who did the procedure will be aware of unique issues related to that patient, stated Cliff Megerian, MD, Professor of Otolaryngology and Medical Director of the Cochlear Implant Program at University Hospitals of Cleveland and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, OH.
For any surgical complication, the patient should be referred back to the surgeon. Each surgeon differs a bit in technique, and the surgeon is the only person who is aware of unique patient factors, agreed Gerard J. Gianoli, MD, a neurotologist in private practice in Baton Rouge, LA, and Clinical Associate Professor of Otolaryngology and Pediatrics at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA.