The pilot surgery was performed at the Department of Otolaryngology of the University Hospital in Kraków under the supervision of Dr. Agnieszka Wiatr. It started the most important phase of research on the prosthesis: clinical trials involving patients. Six patients with hearing loss have been qualified for the pilot treatment.
According to Dr. Wiatr, otitis media is one of the most common diseases in laryngology. "The multiplicity of bacteria that cause these types of diseases and their growing resistance to commonly used antibiotics force us to look for new ways to fight chronic middle ear infections" - she said.
One such method is to look for new materials that not only have good sound conductive properties, but also remove inflammation. "With such inventions, we are able to offer patients not only the removal of a bacterial infection but, above all, an improvement of their hearing" - emphasised the laryngologist.
The "otoimplant" project has been carried out since March 2016 by the research team under the supervision of Dr. Magdalena Ziąbka from the Faculty of Materials Science and Ceramics, AGH University of Science and Technology, who runs it within the framework of the Leader programme of the National Centre for Research and Development.
"Otoimplant" is a middle ear prosthesis made of a polymer containing silver nanoparticle germicidal additive. The innovative implant allows reconstruction of the auditory ossicles in the middle ear and effectively eliminates bacterial infections. Its innovation is primarily the low mass and bactericidal action, which the commonly used titanium implants do not have. The prosthesis is intended to shorten the recovery period of patients and reduce the risk of complications and infections.
By using this type of implant, it will be possible to improve hearing in patients with ossicular chain damaged due to inflammation, injury or congenital defects.
Previous research on the prosthesis included the assessment of biological properties, biocompatibility, bactericidal properties and physicochemical properties. Based on the obtained results, the implants with the best parameters and the highest germicidal efficacy were selected.
According to Dr. Magdalena Ziąbka, the new implant is another significant step in the pursuit of the perfect prosthesis. "We wanted to propose a solution that would be an alternative to current prostheses (...). The operation is the culmination of our hard work, but the greatest reward will be the satisfaction of patients with the restoration of their perception of sound" - she said.
Vice-Rector for cooperation at AGH, Prof. Jerzy Lis noted that the research was conducted by an interdisciplinary team composed of both materials experts and medical professionals. "The new solution is very innovative and indeed offers a great opportunity for those who suffer from hearing disorders" - he said. (PAP)
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