• Cochlear implant;
  • otitis media;
  • tympanostomy tube


Objective To describe the outcome of cochlear implantation in a cohort of pediatric patients with a history of otitis media.

Study Design Retrospective chart review and follow-up phone survey.

Methods The medical records of patients younger than 48 months of age who underwent cochlear implantation were reviewed for demographics, complications, and history of otitis media and bilateral myringotomy and ventilation tubes. A follow-up phone survey was performed to determine the long-term natural history of otitis media.

Results The records of 126 profoundly deaf pediatric patients were reviewed. Seventy-two percent had a history of at least one episode of otitis media, 31% had a history of greater than three episodes, and 2% had a history of chronic serous otitis media. Twenty-three percent underwent bilateral myringotomy and tubes in the distant past, 6 to 8 weeks before implantation, at the time of implantation, or after implantation. A phone survey was successfully completed for 76 patients with a mean follow-up period of 46 months. There was a significant decrease in the incidence of otitis media after the cochlear implantation in the majority of patients with a history of otitis media with and without a history of bilateral myringotomy and tubes.

Conclusions Placement of ventilation tubes either before or at the time of cochlear implantation seems to adequately prevent infectious disease–related complications in otitis-prone children. Therefore, implantation should not be delayed, and subsequent episodes of otitis media can be managed by conventional therapy.