Surgery for cochlear implantation (CI) bears the risks of complication associated with all major surgery, in addition to the particular risks associated with implanting a foreign body into the peripheral auditory system. Here we present a retrospective study involving 227 cochlear implant operations in 205 children to evaluate the rate of intra- and post-operative complications.
Complications were defined as major complications, requiring explantation of the device or further operation, causing a significant medical problem, or leading to any degree of facial paralysis or requiring additional hospitalization for treatment; or defined as minor complications, namely those that settled spontaneously, with conservative treatment, with local care and/or with medication alone.
In our study there were 15 (6.6 per cent) minor and 28 (12.33 per cent) major complications. The most frequent minor complication was dizziness and vomiting (3.08 per cent), followed by transient hemifacial oedema (1.76 per cent), head pain (1.32 per cent) and mild ataxia (0.4 per cent). The most frequent major complication was trauma to the device (9.69 per cent), followed by cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) gusher (2.2 per cent) and facial paresis (0.4 per cent). All of the device trauma cases were re-implanted. There were neither any life-threatening complications nor any facial nerve paralysis in our implanted children.
This study confirms that CI is relatively safe and that major complications are few and within acceptable limits.