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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 September 2005, 19:04 GMT 20:04 UK
'Chip on a stick' retrieves voice
Ronald Wedge and his wife Mary
Ronald Wedge and his wife Mary
Ground-breaking work by surgeons has given back the power of speech to a patient at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Ronald Wedge, 73, of Stoke Holy Cross, said it was a shock when his voice just disappeared about a year ago.

The ear, nose and throat team used "chip on a stick" technology developed in the USA which avoids the need for invasive surgery to help Mr Wedge.

The team has won a Health Enterprise East award for their innovative work.

A hospital spokesman said many patients were benefiting from this one-stop service, which requires no general anaesthetic.

Fish bones

Problems tackled so far include removing fish bones and plum stones from the throat, as well as injecting collagen into the vocal cords to correct voice problems.

Surgeon Paul Montgomery said: "The technology is called 'chip on a stick' because it involves an electronic device that allows us to 'see' into the oesophagus. We can even do a biopsy - a procedure that would normally involve a more serious operation.

"This is the first time we have been able to use the technology in this particular way."

He said it meant safer and more efficient treatment for patients.

Mr Wedge, who also suffers from lung cancer said the procedure was completely painless.

"My voice is not quite what it was but there is definitely a big improvement and I can even hold a conversation on the phone."

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