Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point
On Air
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Sunday, September 6, 1998 Published at 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK


Health

Deaf man in 'bionic' ears breakthrough

The £30,000 operation is the first of its type in the world

A deaf man is set to hear again after pioneering surgeons fitted him with a pair of 'bionic' ears.

For 15 years surgeons have given patients just one implant each.

But for the first time in the world a person has been given twin implants in an operation by Manchester ear experts.

They hope that this will boost hearing from 70% with one implant, to almost normal hearing.


[ image: Manchester Royal Infirmary surgeons performed the operation]
Manchester Royal Infirmary surgeons performed the operation
However, at £30,000 it is unlikely the delicate procedure will become widely available on the NHS.

Richard Ramsden, a consultant otolaryngologist at Manchester Royal Infirmary, performed the three-hour operation on 50-year-old Clive Foster-Cooper, from Wakefield in West Yorkshire, last week.

Professor Ramsden said surgeons were eagerly awaiting the opportunity to switch the implants on.

He said: "The operation can make a terrific difference to someone's quality of life.

"But at the moment we really don't know how much a double implant will differ from a single."

Wired for sound

The small tadpole-like implants - containing a microchip, decoder and receiver coil - look like a snail shell and convert sound waves into electrical impulses for the brain to interpret via a behind-the-ear hearing aid.

Mr Foster-Cooper, who mysteriously became deaf five years ago, said after the operation: "I'm wired up for sound and ready to go.

"Now I have the best chance in the world of being able to hear again thanks to the professor and I'm confident I will do so."

But how many more deaf people will be able to follow him is not clear.

Prof Ramsden said: "It's hard enough to get the government and Department of Health to pay for the one £15,000 operation.

"I can't see them jumping at the chance to double the cost."





Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©


Health Contents

Background Briefings
Medical notes
Relevant Stories

19 Aug 98†|†Health
World's first 'bionic arm' for Scot

11 Jul 98†|†Health
Bionic ear centre offers new hope





Internet Links

Central Manchester Healthcare NHS Trust


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Disability in depth

Spotlight: Bristol inquiry

Antibiotics: A fading wonder

Mental health: An overview

Alternative medicine: A growth industry

The meningitis files

Long-term care: A special report

Aids up close

From cradle to grave

NHS reforms: A guide

NHS Performance 1999

From Special Report
NHS in crisis: Special report

British Medical Association conference '99

Royal College of Nursing conference '99