Purpose: To report our experience in performing cochlear implantation under local anesthesia in a group of patients who were deemed unfit for general anesthesia. Methods: A retrospective chart review was performed to analyze undesirable events and any other discomfort complained by patients during cochlear implantation. Analysis of patient’s satisfaction was performed by means of a survey instrument. We have also compared the duration of surgery and hospitalization time with a control group that was implanted under general anesthesia. Result: Twenty-one cochlear implantation in 20 patients were performed under local anesthesia. Age of patients ranged from 38 to 85 years. All interventions were successfully completed without any conversions to general anesthesia. Discomfort during surgery was reported in five cases: vertigo triggered by electrode insertion in two patients, pain during the round window approach in two patients and distress during the use of drill in one case; no patient experienced agitation. During the postoperative period, no complications or unpleasant experiences were reported. Only two patients stated that they would not perform cochlear implantation again under local anesthesia. Lower duration surgery and hospitalization time were found in the local anesthesia group. Conclusion: Local anesthesia with conscious sedation is a safe and effective alternative for cochlear implant candidates considered unfit for general anesthesia. Fundamental for a successful procedure are preoperative counselling, accurate selection of the patients and constant intraoperative assistance. Unfeasibility of facial nerve monitoring and minor detrimental effect on training are the principal disadvantages in performing cochlear implantation under local anesthesia.
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