Madhu Singhal, 30, is sure that her five-year-old son Gautam, who was born without pinnae (external ears), will soon be able to hear clearly.
The birth defect led to Gautam suffering a significant hearing loss. On May 21, doctors at PD Hinduja Hospital, Mahim, performed a Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA) surgery to correct the defect. “The patient had a rare congenital defect, wherein neither of his outer ears were fully formed and the external auditory canals that lead to the middle and inner ones were also absent,” said Dr Gauri Mankekar, consultant, ear nose and throat surgeon, PD Hinduja Hospital.
Gautam’s inner ear was fully developed because of which he was able to hear but only about 50% and was a perfect candidate for BAHA, Dr Mankekar added. Desperate to seek treatment for their son, the Orissa-based Singhal family consulted experts in Delhi and Tamil Nadu in the last four years.
“Doctors told us that our son is too young for any surgical intervention,” said Gautam’s father Kamal Kumar Singhal, 32, an insurance agent.
The family got in touch with PD Hinduja Hospital eight months ago. BAHA surgery cannot be done on children below the age of five, said doctors. “We had to wait till the patient’s skull bone became thick enough to implant the titanium fixture,” said Dr Mankekar.
According to doctors, BAHA surgery is very effective in patients, who do not have external ears, suffer from continuous ear discharge or have single sided deafness and cannot wear conventional hearing aids.
It was introduced in India in early 2000.
Dr Mankekar added: “This system offers significantly better sound quality as the sound is transferred directly to the cochlea and inner ear through the skull bone, without having to first travel through the skin, which reduces clarity and volume.
In a surgery which lasted for more than two hours, doctors surgically placed a titanium implant in the skull bone behind Gautam’s left ear.
Gautam will now be able to hear normally in the next few months. “In the next few months the implant will integrate with his skull bone and he will soon be able to start wearing the processor,” Dr Mankekar said.