Pressure ulcers and skin infections after cochlear implantation: A delayed yet serious issue

Hui Shan Hsieh, Chee Yee Lee, Hung Pin Wu, Ming Ying Zhuo, Chung Feng Hwang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objectives: Skin flap infection is one of the most common complications of cochlear implantation (CI). We identified the causes of skin flap pressure ulcer over the antenna site and proposed wound management strategies. Methods: A total of 250 consecutive pediatric patients who underwent CI to treat profound hearing loss were retrospectively assessed. Data on demographic characteristics, the cause of skin infection, and the time of onset were obtained. Results: Seventeen patients (17/250, 6.8%) had a total of 23 skin pressure injuries in the area covering the antenna. We used the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel pressure injury staging system to grade injury severity. Twelve patients had 16 (16/23, 69.6.%) stage 1 pressure injuries; the skin reaction resolved after the patients stopped wearing the device for a brief period, loosened the magnet to relieve pressure on the coil, and received topical antibiotics. Five patients with six (6/23, 26.1%) stage 2 pressure injuries and one (1/23, 4.3%) stage 3 injury, were treated with oral antibiotics. The patient with the stage 3 injury was instructed not to wear the external device for 10–14 days. The incidence of skin reactions associated with the ESPrit speech processor (0/17, 0%) was significantly lower than that associated with the Freedom (2/17, 11.8%), N5 (8/17, 47.1%), and N6 (7/17, 41.1%; p < 0.05) processors. Pressure injuries were more common in younger children (≤7 years, 100%) than in older children (>7 years, 0%; p < 0.05) most likely due to their thinner scalps. Conclusions: Early detection and treatment can prevent implant-threatening infections, particularly in younger children. We believe that better antenna designs will reduce this complication.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110241
JournalInternational Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
StatePublished - 11 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Cochlear implant
  • Complication
  • Pressure ulcer
  • Radiation
  • Skin flap


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