The value of nuclear scans in cochlear implant infections

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We discuss the diagnostic value of nuclear scintigraphy in the management of infections after cochlear implantation. A 56-year-old female (Case 1) and a 46-year-old female (Case 2) developed complaints of diffuse headache, 4 and 5 months after cochlear implantation, without other signs of infection during examination, laboratorial testing and initial computed tomography. In Case 1 we performed a technetium 99 m-difosfate scintigraphy, which showed an increased uptake in the right petrosal bone, suggestive of chronic osteomyelitis. This case failed conservative treatment and underwent complete explantation, after which 67gallium-citrate single-photon emission computed tomography normalized during follow-up. In Case 2 inflammation at the site of the cochlear implant was confirmed by performing a positron emission tomography scan, which showed an increased uptake. Case 2 was treated successfully with antibiotics. Both have no signs of recurrent infection. Nuclear scintigraphy can be the single valuable tool in case of a late low-grade infection after cochlear implantation. Delayed low-grade chronic osteomyelitis of the petrosal bone is a rare but dramatic complication after cochlear implantation. It can develop with minimal signs of infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)895-899
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2006


  • Cochlear implant
  • Complications
  • Infection
  • Nuclear scintigraphy
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Pseudomonas

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