Israeli miracle surgery helps child hear for the first time

NYU team flown in to participate in Israel's Shaare Zedek Medical Center’s unusual surgery.

April 15, 2017 04:01
2 minute read.

Shaare Zedek Hospital. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

For the first time in Israel, Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center performed an advanced brain stem implant, on a fiveyear- old boy who was born deaf because he lacked an auditory nerve, the hospital announced on Friday.

Prof. Thomas Roland, head of the department of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery, was accompanied by colleagues from New York University Langone Medical Center who flew from Manhattan to assist in the unusual operation, which was performed and supervised by Shaare Zedek ear nose and throat surgeons, neurosurgeons and speech therapists.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

Since the development of cochlear implants, the number of deaf people in the world has declined significantly, and in most cases the implant connects well with the auditory nerve and allows the deaf to hear. The implant is particularly successful in babies who are born deaf and undergo the surgery at an early age. It is also performed on adults who had normal hearing but became deaf for various reasons.

In a small number of cases in which the hearing nerve is absent or nonfunctional, cochlear implants are not the solution. In such cases, an innovative implant, called an advanced brain stem implant, is inserted surgically into a specific location on the brain stem in the area of the auditory nucleus, in order to bypass the missing auditory nerve.

Transplanting the device requires cooperation among three types of experts – otolaryngological surgeons, brain surgeons and communications disorder clinicians.

The complex operation is being performed today in only a small number of medical centers around the world.

After a series of tests discerned that the child had no auditory nerve and that a cochlear implant would not be sufficient, it was decided to perform the surgery with the participation of experts from NYU, with which Shaare Zedek regularly cooperates.

The surgery itself was carried out in several stages. In the first part, the brain stem was opened by an otolaryngological surgeon, and then a neurosurgeon located the correct position. The implant, similar in shape to a tiny brush, was then placed on the brain stem. The clinicians performed electrophysiological tests to ensure that the implant was in the optimal position for maximum auditory benefit and did not stimulate other areas, such as nearby motor areas.

“The opening of the neurosurgical department at Shaare Zedek allows us to perform complex and multidisciplinary actions that we could not perform in the past,” said Dr. Ronen Perez and Prof. Jean Yves Sichel, who headed the Israeli team.

“The addition of Dr. Nevo Margalit, who is an expert in surgery in the base of the brain, made it possible to access the brain stem and perform the implant.”

The operation, performed at the end of January, was successful, and appropriate electrical responses were received after the placement of the implant. The boy recovered well and was released to go home.

The doctors are very optimistic that the child’s ability to speak and communicate with his surroundings will improve over time. The NYU team came to Jerusalem again in March and activated the device, and they saw that it functions probably.

The boy can now hear, but he still needs to undergo rehabilitation.

Related Content

PROF. AVIRAM NISSAN performing lifesaving surgery at Sheba Medical Center.
July 18, 2018
Sheba Medical Center is a global leader in HIPEC surgery

Sponsored Content