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UK's first Cochlear Implant operation to give sound in both ears

Posted Sep 22 2010 2:59pm

The UK's first operation to fit a single cochlear implant capable of giving sound in both ears has taken place, thanks to the work of the South of England Cochlear Implant Centre, based at the University of Southampton.

Julie Brinton, joint head of the centre, comments: "Over the past 20 years, the South of England Cochlear Implant Centre has implanted over 500 people with different implants. Some adults and children have already received two implants, with one in each ear. The difference with the device is that, although information is delivered to each ear, there is only one implant."

Although around 40 of these devices have been implanted in patients in Europe, this is the first of its kind in the UK.

The operation was carried out at Southampton General Hospital by Mike Pringle, Consultant Otolaryngologist based at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth.

Mike Pringle says: "This is different to other types of implant as it is one implant going into both ears. It's not unusual for children to have two implants, one in each ear, but adults usually just have one.

"This type of device has an internal receiver/stimulator with two wires; one will go directly into one inner ear and the other will go over the top of the head, under the scalp, to reach the other inner ear. There will be a microphone on each ear collecting sounds from both sides.

"The advantage is that it allows adults to have bilateral hearing. Having two ears working makes it easier to hear in noisy backgrounds and also helps with localisation, or hearing where sounds are coming from.

The recipient of the implant is a 44-year old woman from the Isle of Wight. She has been deaf all her life and has used hearing aids until now.

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