During this holiday season, the editors at Hearing Health & Technology Matters (HHTM) are taking some time off. However, we are not leaving you without anything to read on our blog this week. Instead, we are publishing a special holiday edition filled with what we call our Readers’ Choices.
HHTM has had more than half a million page views in 2014, and the Readers’ Choices featured this week are the posts published on each of our individual blogs that drew the largest number of viewers during the year.
Whether or not you have read these Readers’ Choice posts before, we think you will enjoy them. And be sure to return next week when all of us editors, our batteries recharged, will publish a New Year’s Eve issue filled with fascinating new posts to get 2015, HHTM’s fifth year, off to a great start.
The Problem: Protruding Ears
Traditional Treatment Techniques
This Procedure, performed in less than 20 minutes under local anesthesia, offers immediate correction and rapid recovery. The Earfold implant produces consistent outcomes with less discomfort and fewer side effects than traditional otoplasty surgery. The implant reshapes the patient’s Auricle with a simple procedure that places it under the involved ear through a small incision. One of the most consistent methods for measuring the degree of prominence is the helical – mastoid (H-M) distance (Right). Typically, the H-M distance is 18-20 mm. As the H-M distance increases, the ear is perceived to be increasingly prominent or protruded. The H-M distance is measured before treatment so that a comparison can be made with the H-M distance after treatment with earFold™. The incision is then closed. While in place, earFold™ re-molds the cartilage of the ear allowing it to maintain its new shape and, due to its flexibility, allows for natural movement of the Auricle so that when moved it will always spring back to its corrected position.
The earfold™ implant is made of a short strip of nitinol metal alloy. Nitinol alloy is made of two metals, titanium and nickel, that are widely used in medical fields. The implant is made from the same material used for coronary artery stents (for patients with heart disease or vascular disease due to a blockage of their arteries) and also for unbreakable spectacles. The implant is simply a curved, wafer-thin strip of metal (about the thickness of a human hair), which is plated with 24-carat gold that reduces the visibility of the implant under the skin. The earFold™ implant has undergone extensive laboratory and human clinical testing over several years but is not yet approved for use in the United States.
One of the first patients to have benefited from the procedure is Jeremy Wood, 53, a senior valuer for the auction house Bonhams in York, England. “I inherited my sticking-out ears from my father and was called ‘bat ears’ by the boys at school,” he recalls. “I have felt self-conscious about them all my adult life. Strangely I’ve minded more as I’ve got older, maybe because you notice it more as you get
balder. But I never considered surgery until I heard about the implant. My daughter has the same ears as me, and had traditional otoplasty surgery on the NHS at the age of ten. It was quite traumatic and she still suffers from increased sensitivity around her ears, four years on. But this sounded incredibly simple so it appealed.” Although pain and swelling can last up to two weeks, no follow-up treatment is required. Jeremy says: “It was a little sore for a few days afterwards but that was it. I was astonished.”