Ear tubes and cochlear implants can work together says UAB study

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) – Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham say that ear tubes used to clean up ear infections can be used safely with cochlear implants.

A new study from the university looked at the impact of tubes on patients with cochlear implants and whether the tubes should be removed before cochlear implantation. Research found that implant recipients could be treated much the same way as children without them.

"Getting rid of an ear infection and minimizing the risk of ear infection, especially for a child who is identified as a good candidate for cochlear implants, is very important," said Audie Woolley, M.D., an otolaryngologist in the UAB School of Medicine and lead author on the study. "This study shows that the management of the myringotomy tube before cochlear implantation does not adversely affect outcomes."

The study involved 62 children between the ages of 1 and 5 years who received ear tubes before cochlear implants. In more than half, the children had their tubes removed before surgery as opposed to those who kept theirs unto the implantation. Both groups of children had no cases of meningitis or removal of cochlear implants due to infection.
The study also found that children who received cochlear implants first could be given tubes to rid them of acute infections.

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