Daniel Coelho, M.D., co-director of the Virginia Commonwealth Medical Center’s Cochlear Implant Center, is the first surgeon in central Virginia to implant a new bone conduction hearing device that restores hearing.
The device helps patients with single-sided deafness, conductive hearing loss and mixed hearing loss. Single-sided deafness is total hearing loss in one ear. Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound is not transmitted through the outer and middle ear. Mixed hearing loss is both conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss caused by damage to the inner ear.
“The Sophono Alpha System uses implantable magnets that will allow the patient to wear a small device that will conduct sound to the patient’s inner ear, leading to significantly improved hearing,” Coelho said. “Individuals unable to wear traditional hearing aids, patients with chronic inflammation or infection of the ear canal and children with aural atresia (the absence or closure of an ear or ear canal) or microtia (an underdeveloped external ear), can be helped by this technology.”
The minimally invasive, 45-minute procedure involves two small magnets that are surgically implanted against the patient’s skull. Once the area heals, a third magnet is placed against the patient’s scalp and the hearing system device is attached to the outer magnet.
“The device will send sound vibrations directly to the patient’s hearing ear, allowing the person to hear sound from all sides,” said Coelho. “By using magnets, this technology offers a potential alternative to other similar devices that work by using a metal attachment that goes through the skin to the skull.”
Coelho has performed the procedure on two patients, both of whom are deaf in one ear as a result of viral infections. “Both patients have been very happy to have this option,” Coelho said. “This gives them a chance to hear what they’ve been missing for many years.”
- About the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center
The Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center is one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers and stands alone as the most comprehensive academic medical center in Central Virginia. The medical center includes the 865-bed MCV Hospitals and outpatient clinics, MCV Physicians — a 600-physician-faculty group practice, and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University. The VCU Medical Center, through its VCU Health System, offers state-of-the-art care in more than 200 specialty areas, many of national and international note, including organ transplantation, head and spinal cord trauma, burn healing and cancer treatment. The VCU Medical Center is the site for the region’s only Level 1 Trauma Center. As a leader in healthcare research, the VCU Medical Center offers patients the opportunity to choose to participate in programs that advance evolving treatment, such as those sponsored by the National Cancer Institute through VCU’s Massey Cancer Center, Virginia’s first NCI-designated cancer center. The VCU Medical Center’s academic mission is supported by VCU’s health sciences schools of medicine, allied health, dentistry, pharmacy and nursing.
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