Health Watch -- Listen Up: Implant Infections

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications  and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.



This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about ears, hearing and technology for restoring hearing. We’ve been discussing cochlear implants — “bionic ears” that can restore hearing to some deaf or hearing-impaired people. There can be complications with these implants, but doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center have discovered one cause.

Infections occur in about 1 to 2 percent of cases, and these infections don’t respond to antibiotics, so the implant usually has to be removed while the infection is treated. Dr. Peter Roland, chairman of otolaryngology at UT Southwestern, says he and his team found that a biofilm may form around the implant. Bacteria live in the biofilm, and the film also shields bacteria from antibiotics. Researchers believe that nooks and crannies in the implant structure may allow the biofilm to form. Designers can use this information to help eliminate the problem.


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November 2006

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