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Friday, June 26, 2009
Surgeons from MGH and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI)
performed an Auditory Brainstem Implant (ABI) surgery -- a New
England first -- May 20 with the goal of eventually partially
restoring the patient's hearing. Developed in 1979 at the House Ear Institute
in Los Angeles
and approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000, the procedure has
been performed for approximately 500 patients worldwide.
ABI surgery is used primarily to partially restore hearing loss
due to a hereditary disease called Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2). The condition causes benign tumors on several key nerves. The auditory
nerve, which carries sound signals to the brain, often is damaged by tumor
growth or surgery to remove tumors. As a
result, many NF2 patients develop hearing loss in both ears.
To help restore some degree of hearing in these patients, surgeons
implant the ABI, which bypasses the inner ear and auditory nerve and
electrically activates nerves in the brainstem. The device is currently the
only hearing option for deaf NF2 patients and allows them to hear sounds in
their environment such as doorbells, horns or other noises. The implant offers
patients enhanced communication when combined with lip-reading.
The ABI surgery was performed at MGH by a team of MGH and MEEI
surgeons. MGH specialists were Fred Barker, MD, of the Department of
Neurosurgery, and Robert Martuza, MD, chief of the Department of Neurosurgery.
MEEI specialists were Daniel Lee, MD, FACS; Ron de Venecia, MD, PhD; and
Michael McKenna, MD. William Hitselberger, MD, of the House Ear Institute, the
first neurosurgeon to perform the procedure, also participated. Follow-up care
is being provided at MEEI.
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