Edinburgh man in Bonebridge rib ear operation

A SCOTTISH patient has become the first in the UK to have a pioneering implant to improve his hearing along with surgery to construct a new ear.

Ear, nose and throat consultant Alex Bennet, right, with Brian Hogg. Picture: PA

• Brian Hogg one of first in UK to receive Bonebridge implant

• Mr Hogg also given reconstructed ear using bone from his rib

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NHS Lothian carried out the first specialist “Bonebridge” implant and ear reconstruction on patient Brian Hogg in December last year.

Brian Hogg: Ear operation. Picture: PA

The innovative device is fitted within the ear with a processor on the outside of the skull to pick up the sound information which is then transmitted to the brain.

The system is used when a patient is unable to wear a conventional external hearing aid.

The health board said the patient from Edinburgh was the first person in the UK to receive the breakthrough procedure to treat hearing loss, which was carried out at the Lauriston Building in Edinburgh.

The treatment was led by Alex Bennett, an ear, nose and throat consultant for NHS Lothian.

“This is a truly innovative procedure and I’m sure the device will make a significant difference to Brian and many other patients like him,” he said.

“The Bonebridge implant is intended to improve hearing by replicating the actions of the ear drum.

“A discreet audio processor, which is attached to the patient’s head, picks up sound waves which are then amplified by the implant and passed to the inner ear through the skull bone.

“These sound waves are then interpreted by the brain as sound.”

Mr Hogg, 29, was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome (TCS) – a genetic disorder resulting in abnormalities in the development of the head and neck.

People suffering from TCS will typically be born with small, underdeveloped ears and an abnormal middle ear, resulting in very poor levels of hearing, or deafness.

The condition meant that Mr Hogg was born without ears and could not wear conventional hearing aids as they are styled to fit in and around the top and middle of the ear.

In a separate procedure Mr Hogg’s right ear was reconstructed using bone which was carved from one of his ribs, and cartilage. Ken Stewart, one of NHS Lothian’s plastic surgeons, sculpted the ears.

This was part of a ten-hour operation which included implanting the Bonebridge implant at the same time.

After surgery Mr Hogg said: “I’ve noticed a huge difference in the range of sounds I can hear.

“The sound quality is much better and I can hear noises at a distance now, which my previous device didn’t pick up.

“The Bonebridge implant is so light, it’s practically weightless. It’s tailored to most closely match my normal hearing range.

“When you think about how far mobile phone technology has come in the last ten years, there have been similar advances in hearing aids.

“I’m very grateful to the team of consultants for fitting the implant for me.”

Dr Ingeborg Hochmair, managing director of MED-EL which designed the implant, said: “Our innovative development of the Bonebridge will considerably improve the lives of patients.

“We consider this new development a great success.”

NHS Lothian said Mr Hogg was the first person in the UK to receive the Bonebridge implant, though a woman from Brechin was also fitted with a Bonebridge implant in December last year. A similar procedure was also reportedly carried out in Manchester in the same month.