IM this article to a friend!

April 14, 2006

Ear implant as improved alternative to hearing aid

From: Hindu, India - Apr 14, 2006

Staff Reporter

Device will benefit the severely impaired

* It offers flexibility to carry out normal activities, including swimming
* Surgical procedure is more or less similar to cochlear implantation

CHENNAI : Ear care in Chennai is set to scale another technology level with a new implant that offers an improved and invisible alternative to available versions of the hearing aid.

At least three patients suffering from partial hearing loss have been short-listed at the KKR ENT Hospital to benefit from implantation with the pioneering versions of the Middle Ear Transducer (MET) Fully Implantable Ossicular Stimulator (FIMOS) later this week.

The device will benefit those with moderate to severe hearing impairment who have various difficulties with wearing hearing aids, ranging from poor social acceptance to plain discomfort. The MET equipment comes to Chennai — for the first time in Asia — after a series of around 200 successful implants across the U.S. and Europe.

"The device addresses the problems of the hearing impaired on two fronts— invisibility of the implanted device which avoids stigma and better sound quality," says Ravi Ramalingam, senior consultant at KKR Hospital.

In remaining embedded inside the ear framework, the MET goes one step better than the cochlear implants which is a solution for those with profound or near total hearing loss.

The first round of surgeries is being performed for a subsidised rate of around Rs. 2 lakh though the device has been priced at around Rs. 6 lakh.

For those dependent on traditional hearing aids, the device offers a rare flexibility to carry out normal activities, including swimming.

It also addresses the common complaints about hearing aids such as distorted sound, poor quality, difficulty in comprehending speech in noisy places, sensitivity to loud sounds and discomfort caused by the earmold.

The MET device consists of the implant, programming system and a remote control.

The implant itself has three components — a capsule that houses the electronic circuit, a microphone system and the Middle Ear Transducer. Sound is picked up by the microphone, processed, amplified and sent to the transducer.

The movement of the transducer tip against the incus causes the middle ear bones to move, in the same fashion as sound waves make the eardrum vibrate.

MET is a one-time implant and recharging of the battery that runs the implant can be done externally.

The surgical procedure is more or less similar to cochlear implantation.

© Copyright 2000 - 2006 The Hindu