The Department of Otolaryngology at Washington University in St. Louis made history on July 15 when it completed its first case in a clinical trial to restore hearing in patients with vestibular schwannomas, also known as acoustic neuromas.
The July operation at Barnes-Jewish Hospital marked the first use of the MED-EL Auditory Nerve Test System (ANTS) in North America, allowing simultaneous removal of a vestibular schwannoma and placement of a cochlear implant.
Conceived by Craig Buchman, MD, and Cameron Wick, MD, the clinical trial received FDA-approval for use of the ANTS under an investigator-initiated investigational device exemption (IDE) from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The MED-EL system allows monitoring of the auditory nerve during tumor removal, opening the door to preserving that nerve and potential hearing rehabilitation with a cochlear implant for these patients. Since that historic case, the department’s skull base team has completed two more successful operations and has two more patients awaiting the procedure.
For the vast majority of patients with a vestibular schwannoma, hearing gradually declines regardless of whether their benign tumor is observed, radiated, or surgically removed. Current hearing rehabilitation options, like CROS hearing aids or osseointegrated implants, fail to restore hearing in the affected ear. The new procedure offers hope that hearing can be restored through the preservation of the auditory nerve and the use of cochlear implants.
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*Washington University is the only site for this clinical trial (NCT04241679). For more information about the clinical trial, please contact Cameron Wick, MD, at 314-273-1589 or [email protected].