Pain in cochlear implant recipients: An uncommon, yet serious, consequence of cochlear implantation

Yisgav Shapira*, Yifat Yaar-Soffer, Minka Hildesheimer, Lela Migirov, Yael Henkin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives/Hypothesis We describe pain around the receiver/stimulator [RS] presenting months to years after implantation. Study Design A retrospective chart review. Methods We performed a retrospective review of all cochlear implant recipients complaining of pain around their RS through the years 2009 through 2013, with a follow-up of at least 6 months. Excluded from the study were patients with an identifiable cause for their pain such as trauma, local infection, or skin breakdown. The therapy regimen and outcomes were reviewed. Results Thirty patients complained of delayed pain over their RS, representing 2.8% of 1,044 implantations performed at the Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, Israel, as of 2013. The time from implantation to the presentation of pain ranged from 3 months to 12 years. The pain was perceptible even when the external magnet and processor were not used, and was usually most obvious in specific points around the RS. Seventy-seven percent of our patients responded well to conservative therapy. Fifteen (50%) responded to prolonged antibiotic treatment. Five patients (17%) responded to antiinflammatories alone. One patient (3%) responded to deactivation of two electrodes. Six patients (20%) required reimplantation, after which the pain resolved in all. At explantation, no signs of infection, foreign body reaction, or obvious device damage were found. Conclusion Delayed pain around the RS that is unrelated to use is a serious consequence of cochlear implantation, and in some cases, those necessitating reimplantation, should be considered a major complication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1946-1951
Number of pages6
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2015


  • Cochlear implant
  • complications
  • pain


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