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What are the risks of cochlear implant surgery?

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Risks of undergoing a cochlear surgical implant procedure include damage to the facial nerve, meningitis, leakage of cerebrospinal fluid and leakage of perilymph fluid, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The surgery can also cause skin-wound infection, or blood or fluid accumulation at the surgery location.

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The facial nerve that can get injured during a cochlear surgical implant procedure is the nerve that enables facial muscles to move, explains the FDA. It is vulnerable to injury, as it is found close to the area on the face where a surgeon puts the cochlear implant. If an injury occurs, the patient may experience either temporary or permanent weakening, or complete paralysis on the part of the face where the implant lies.

Individuals with abnormal formations of inner ear structures are at a higher risk of meningitis, which is an infection of the brain’s surface lining, states the FDA. Meningitis is considered a rare but severe complication.

Cerebrospinal fluid leakage occurs when the surgery causes a hole to form in the inner ear or a region in the brain’s covering, says the FDA. The fluid surrounding the brain oozes out of the hole. It is also possible for the fluid in the inner ear to secrete through the hole made by the surgeon to insert the cochlear implant.

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