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Cochlear implant failures: lessons learned from a UK centre

  • L Masterson (a1), S Kumar (a1), J H K Kong (a1), J Briggs (a2), N Donnelly (a1), P R Axon (a1) and R F Gray (a1)...



To review our experience of cochlear implant failure and subsequent revision surgery, and to illustrate the experience we have gained by presenting a series of lessons learned.


A combined retrospective and prospective study of revision surgery in a UK regional cochlear implant centre.


Of the 746 cochlear implantations undertaken, 33 (4.7 per cent of adults and 4.1 per cent of children) had a registered failure requiring re-implantation. The mean time to device failure was 60 months in adults and 35 months in children. Causes of cochlear implant failure were medical (n = 11), electrode displacement (n = 2), ‘hard device failure’ (n = 15) and ‘soft device failure’ (n = 5). Chronic suppurative otitis media and post-auricular mastoid abscess were the commonest causes of medical failure. There was one case of electrode array displacement as a direct result of skin flap revision surgery. In 80 per cent of cases, audiological performances were stable or improved following re-implantation.


As the number of cochlear implants increase and patients outlive the lifespan of their devices, we will face a growing number of revision procedures. Audiologists and otologists should be competent in diagnosing and managing device failure and medical complications requiring cochlear re-implantation.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Mr Liam Masterson, Department of Otolaryngology, Cambridge University Hospitals, NHS Foundation Trust, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 0QQ, UK Fax: +44 (0)1223 586 735 E-mail:


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Cochlear implant failures: lessons learned from a UK centre

  • L Masterson (a1), S Kumar (a1), J H K Kong (a1), J Briggs (a2), N Donnelly (a1), P R Axon (a1) and R F Gray (a1)...


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