The James Cook University Hospital has become the first in the region to be commissioned to provide middle ear implants making the Middlesbrough hospital a major provider for all recognised forms of hearing loss treatments.
Previously patients had to travel to Manchester, Nottingham or Birmingham for this life-changing treatment which opens up a new world of hearing opportunities for patients who are unable to benefit from conventional hearing aids.
Ear, nose and throat (ENT) consultant Mr Anirvan Banerjee said: “Patients with mild to moderate hearing loss are fitted with hearing aids which amplify the sounds entering the ear, which is appropriate for most patients. At the other end of the scale those patients with profound hearing loss can have a cochlear implant fitted which bypasses the hearing organ and stimulates the auditory nerve.
“However there is a group of patients who suffer from severe hearing loss but are unable to manage with conventional hearing aids for a number of reasons. If their hearing loss is not severe enough to warrant consideration for a cochlear implant then another option is a middle ear implant.”
Middle ear implants use a clever magnet to vibrate the structures of the middle ear. The implant is fitted to a tiny bone in the ear and receives signals from a compact audio processor that sits discreetly behind the patient’s ear.
“Some patients are almost living in social isolation because they can’t use their hearing aids but hopefully with this implant they will be able to enjoy life a lot more,” said Mr Banerjee, who will be fitting the implants along with fellow surgeon Mr Noweed Ahmad.
“We have been working hard for four years to bring these implants to James Cook but we could not have done it without the support of clinical director for ENT Derek Bosman, managing director of surgical services Sandra Donoghue, head of audiology Des Robertshaw and senior audiologist Jen Ramsbottom.”
Mr Bosman added: “The surgical services centre and ENT department at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are delighted to support the introduction of middle ear implants. We are now able to offer a complete implant service to our patients with treatments for all forms of hearing loss.”