Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cochlear implants may be safe, effective for organ transplant patients

Date:
February 10, 2012
Source:
Georgia Health Sciences University
Summary:
Cochlear implants may be a safe, effective option for some organ transplant patients who've lost their hearing as an unfortunate consequence of their transplant-related drug regime, researchers report.

Dr. Brian J. McKinnon, otologist and neurotologist (right), and Dr. Kenneth C. Iverson, Chief Resident in otolaryngology, at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Health Sciences University.
Credit: Image courtesy of Georgia Health Sciences University

Cochlear implants may be a safe, effective option for some organ transplant patients who've lost their hearing as an unfortunate consequence of their transplant-related drug regime, researchers report.

The antibiotics and immunosuppressive drugs required by organ transplant patients can cause deafness, said Dr. Brian J. McKinnon, otologist and neurotologist at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Health Sciences University.

Antibiotics can destroy the finite number of dark cells in the inner ear. These cells produce the minute amount of fluid needed to help convert sound waves to neural impulses the brain can interpret. Apparently these dark cells are very metabolically active and antibiotics are designed to interfere with bacteria's metabolic activity.

"When you destroy the ability to make fluid, the system no longer functions," McKinnon said. Any sound patients may hear is incomprehensible.

Drugs that keep the immune system from attacking a transplanted organ can also leave the inner ear vulnerable to infection. In fact, cochlear implant patients typically get vaccinations to bolster their immune response to common infections since an electrode, connecting the device to the inner ear, can become a highway for bacteria and viruses. "If you do make the immune system work better, they may reject their organ," McKinnon notes.

Consequently, only a few transplant patients worldwide have gotten cochlear implants.

However, the new, small retrospective study provides more evidence that patients can restore their hearing without additional health risks if they wait at least six months after the organ transplant and take the right antibiotic before and after the cochlear implant procedure, McKinnon said. He and Dr. Kenneth C. Iverson, Chief Resident in otolaryngology at MCG, are co-authors of the study published in the American Journal of Otolaryngology. Two previous studies described experience with less than a dozen total patients.

The GHSU study focuses on two patients, including a 47-year-old woman who developed profound hearing loss five years after receiving a kidney from a living family member when a severe infection put her in intensive care and required several powerful antibiotics. She received a cochlear implant 18 months after the infection and six years after her transplant; her treatment included an intravenous antibiotic before the surgery and an oral antibiotic for a week afterward as well as continuation of her usual transplant-related medications. Her hearing was essentially normal 13 months later. She died two years after her implant from an unrelated health problem.

A 50-year-old man, who received a kidney from a deceased donor, experienced profound hearing loss six weeks after a severe brain infection. He received a cochlear implant seven months after his transplant and similar antibiotic therapy. About 75 percent of his hearing was restored 14 months later.

"This study adds to the growing evidence that successful cochlear implantation can be achieved in appropriately selected renal transplant patients," McKinnon and Iverson write. They have continued to use the device selectively in transplant patients and plan a larger, retrospective study.

Cochlear implants, which today are less than an inch in diameter, are placed behind the ear in between the scalp and skull. A short lead is inserted through the skull to the inner ear, located near the base of the brain. The devices are used in patients when other methods, such as traditional hearing aids, have failed. The device is costly and often not fully covered by private or federal health insurance, which has limited its use.

About 20 adults per 100,000 are deaf by the time they reach their senior years, primarily as a result of infections or repeated exposure to loud noise; 1-2 children per 1,000 are born with hearing loss.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Georgia Health Sciences University. The original article was written by Toni Baker. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kenneth Charles Iverson, Brian John McKinnon. Cochlear implantation after renal transplantation. American Journal of Otolaryngology, 2012; 33 (1): 150 DOI: 10.1016/j.amjoto.2010.12.002

Cite This Page:

Georgia Health Sciences University. "Cochlear implants may be safe, effective for organ transplant patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120210133352.htm>.
Georgia Health Sciences University. (2012, February 10). Cochlear implants may be safe, effective for organ transplant patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120210133352.htm
Georgia Health Sciences University. "Cochlear implants may be safe, effective for organ transplant patients." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120210133352.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins