Safety of Monopolar Electrocautery in Patients With Cochlear Implants

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The outcomes of 2 patients with cochlear implants (CIs) who underwent adenotonsillectomy (AT) with inadvertent use of monopolar cautery are presented. The safety data regarding monopolar cautery use in CI recipients is also reviewed.

Study Design:

This is a retrospective case series of 2 CI recipients that underwent AT with monopolar cautery and literature review of electrocautery safety in the setting of CI.


Two patients with CIs underwent AT with use of monopolar cautery inadvertently by surgeons that do not routinely perform cochlear implants as part of his or her clinical practice. Patient 1 was a 9-year-old female who had AT for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) after undergoing unilateral CI for profound congenital sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) 8 years ago. Patient 2 was a 7-year-old female who underwent AT for OSA 4 months after undergoing unilateral CI for congenital SNHL. Both patients had no immediate signs of complications with their CI use postoperatively. Both patients demonstrated unchanged postoperative neural response telemetry and behavioral audiometric testing. Patient 1 continues to have no CI-related complications 3.5 years after the procedure. Patient 2 has been followed for at least 3 months by audiometric testing and 10 months by otolaryngologist with no CI-related complications.


Although animal and cadaveric studies suggest that monopolar cautery may be safely used in patients with cochlear implants, there have been no in vivo human studies that have evaluated the risk to the patient or implant. This is a report of a small, unintended experience with 2 patients, both of whom exhibit no complications or changes to CI function thus far.

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