Doctors in the US begin bionic ear implants

Doctors at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Centre have begun surgically implanting a ‘bionic ear’, which has reportedly restored hearing to once-deaf adults throughout the Delaware Valley.

Doctors at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Centre’s Department of Otorhinolaryngology have begun surgically implanting a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved ‘bionic ear,’ bringing hearing to once-deaf adults throughout the Delaware Valley.

Surgeons and audiologists from Penn are the first in Pennsylvania to implant this device, dubbed the Clarion CII Bionic Ear, and are participating in current clinical trials assessing its benefits.

The CLL Bionic Ear is said to deliver sound information directly to the hearing nerve up to one million times a second, which is significantly faster than conventional cochlear implant technology that delivers sound information under 20,000 times each second.

Conventional cochlear implants do not have internal electronic memory banks and control electronics to store hearing programs directly in the implant, so they rely on the external sound processor to continuously transmit all hearing program instructions to the implant electronics.

Continuous transmission of hearing program parameters occupies much of the data and information pipeline to the implant and is said to leave limited room for the transmission of detailed sound signal.

As a result, conventional cochlear implants can deliver only a small, custom subset of full sound signals to the hearing nerve, and must discard many of the important fine details of speech and sound.

The high resolution CIl Bionic Ear can directly store all hearing program parameters in the internal electronic memory banks, leaving the data and information pipeline open for the fine details of sound.

This advance design is said to allow the miniature sound processor to be dedicated to transmitting the full broadband signal to the powerful electronics of the Bionic Ear, resulting in more and better sound information delivered to the hearing nerve in much greater detail.

‘Today, more and more patients achieve higher levels of speech understanding in shorter periods of time. The CII Bionic Ear System can offer patients fuller sound signals at faster speeds,’ said Michelle Montes, MS, co-ordinator of cochlear implant services in Penn’s department of Audiology. ‘These advancements have the potential to provide more detailed speech and sound information with improved fidelity.’