A surgical first in North America introduces a new era in the treatment of hearing impairment

MED-EL introduces BONEBRIDGETM - the world's first active bone conduction implant system

TORONTO, May 10, 2013 /CNW/ - Today, for the first time in more than four decades, an Ontario nurse and mother of six can clearly hear music, voices, laughter and more following a breakthrough surgical procedure for North America involving the world's first BONEBRIDGETM active bone conduction implant system.

Kelly Dickson, 51, a patient of London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) in London, Ont., underwent surgery April 25 involving new technology known as BONEBRIDGETM, the world's first active bone conduction implant system, developed by MED-EL Medical Electronics of Austria. Following the hour-long surgery last month, the device was activated successfully today at LHSC.

"I am thrilled with my new hearing abilities. With Bonebridge I am now able to rediscover what I lost and experience all the joys that come with hearing," says Kelly, of Cambridge, Ont. "As a nurse, hearing is an important part of my job and with Bonebridge, I look forward to being able to use my stethoscope again without my conventional hearing aid barrier and not run the risk of getting ear infections with constant removing and replacing.  I have a new freedom and I feel empowered that I will be able to provide exceptional care for years to come."

The new Bonebridge technology allows people with hearing impairments such as conductive and mixed hearing loss or single-sided deafness to hear the full range of sounds. It is also the first intact-skin implant, designed to reduce the risk of infection.

Up to now, patients with hearing impairments could be fitted with bone-anchored hearing aids. These hearing aids are associated with a comparatively high rate of complications and the devices can be complex to handle for patients. Bonebridge is the latest in intact, under-the-skin implants which have been tried and tested for years for other hearing implants and stands out for their low complication rates and their ease of use.

"This technology offers patients with hearing impairments a significant improvement in their overall quality of life," says Dr. Sumit Agrawal, MD, FRCSC, surgeon at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC). "The surgery was a success, the operative time was less than 60 minutes, and the patient went home the same day." 

"The Bonebridge activation went smoothly and the patient was a very pleased with the hearing results. This is a really exciting solution for our patients, and we look forward to continued success with the Bonebridge in the future."

Bonebridge consists of two components: an implant under the skin behind the ear and an audio processor to receive sound waves. The audio processor records the sound and converts it into signals which are then transferred through the skin to the implant.  The implant is embedded in the bone (temporal bone) and converts the signals received into mechanical vibrations that are then transmitted to the surrounding bone. The bone then conducts these vibrations to the inner ear where they are converted to nerve signals and transmitted as impulses to the auditory nerve, similar to the natural hearing process. The Bonebridge technology is the first active hearing implant where no surgical access to the middle ear is necessary.

Dr. Ingeborg Hochmair, CEO and CTO of MED-EL worldwide, states: "Our innovative development of the Bonebridge will considerably improve the lives of patients. Due to the intact-skin design, the protective function of the skin is preserved. We consider this new development a great success. The Bonebridge is the culmination of decades of experience gathered in the development of hearing implant solutions."

More information about the technology and clinics performing this surgery is available at http://www.medel.com/ca/.

About MED-EL
Austria-based MED-EL Medical Electronics is a leading provider of hearing implant systems worldwide. The family-owned business is one of the pioneers in the industry. The two Austrian scientists Ingeborg and Erwin Hochmair developed the world's first microelectronic-multichannel Cochlear-Implant in 1977. The cochlear implant was and remains the first replacement of a human sense, the sense of hearing. In 1990 they laid the foundation for the successful growth of the company when they hired their first employees. To date, the company has grown to more than 1400 employees around the world.

Today MED-EL offers the widest range of implantable solutions worldwide to treat various degrees of hearing loss: cochlear and middle ear implant systems, EAS (combined Electric Acoustic Stimulation) hearing implant system and auditory brainstem implants as well as the world´s first active bone conduction implant. People in about 100 countries enjoy the gift of hearing with the help of a product from MED-EL. www.medel.com

SOURCE MED-EL

Video with caption: "Video: Interview with Kelly Dickson, first BONEBRIDGE patient in North America". Video available at: http://youtu.be/bMfzQsCeWw8

Video with caption: "Video: How the BONEBRIDGE works". Video available at: http://youtu.be/ng63WZGGVD000

Image with caption: "BONEBRIDGE implant and audio processor (CNW Group/MED-EL)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130510_C5682_PHOTO_EN_26594.jpg

Image with caption: "BONEBRIDGE implant (CNW Group/MED-EL)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130510_C5682_PHOTO_EN_26596.jpg




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