In March, we held the annual meeting of great minds, the Oticon Medical Scientific Meeting. The topic: Tissue Preservation Surgery. Experts from all over the world came together to discuss surgical techniques that yield better results for patients.
Who better to host such an event than Ravi Sockalingam, PhD FAAA and Director of Clinical Research and Professional Relations at Oticon Medical. We interviewed Ravi to take you behind the scenes of the event. Here’s your look into the future of bone anchored hearing.
What’s the mission of Oticon Medical’s Scientific Meeting?
“The mission is to bring together top surgeons so they can share experiences and exchange knowledge about tissue preservation in bone anchored hearing implant surgery. We had 40 surgeons attend from North America, Europe, Israel and Turkey.”
Which implantation techniques were examined?
Traditional Dermatome technique
Linear Incision with tissue reduction
Linear incision with no skin thinning, and no/minimal tissue reduction
The Punch Technique: a minimally invasive, tissue-sparing technique with extended length abutments
Single Stage Osseointegrated Hearing Impact Surgery in Children: comparing outcomes between a single stage versus two-stage surgery in children between 5 and 18 years old
All of these methods can be done with local anesthesia. Linear incision with no skin thinning and tissue reduction, and the biopsy punch techniques are minimally invasive as they better preserve the soft tissue compared to Dermatome and Linear with tissue reduction technique.
Tell us a bit more about who attended. Who are the experts? You mentioned “legends of the field” – who are they?
Cor Cremers, MD PhD
Professor Emeritus of ENT-Otology at the Radboud University in Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Professor Cor Cremers has been doing surgery since the 80s and has published numerous papers on bone anchored surgery and bone anchored hearing aids. At the Scientific Meeting, he spoke about the long-term history of the Linear Incision technique which he and his team pioneered. He and his colleagues started using this technique in the early 90s, and he has data on over 1,000 patients, including children. [LINK TO PAPER: Assessment of More Than 1,000 Implanted Percutaneous Bone Conduction Devices: Skin Reactions and Implant Survival]
Peter Roland, MD
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Peter Roland, Professor and Chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center, as well as Professor of Neurological Surgery, covered Single Stage Osseointegrated Hearing Implant Surgery in Children. Instead of a two-stage implantation, Professor Roland has been performing one-stage surgery in children. In his presentation, he showed findings that build a solid case that one-stage surgery is safe for children.
Johan Wolfaardt, BDS MDent
University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
Professor Gohn Wolfaardt—from the University of Alberta and Director of Clinics at the Institute of Reconstructive Sciences in Medicine studies skin response after bone conduction implantation. He examines skin inflammation to determine how it happened, how the patients are treated, and if they require revision surgery. He works to understand how we could manage skin inflammation in the longe term as he has a special interest in quality management.
“Wolfaardt talked about establishing a network where surgeons could come together and talk about how to accurately describe and define skin reactions. There is a current scale called the Holger’s scale. Jon talks about how this scale doesn’t capture data accurately, and he is calling for a better system to define skin reactions in a better way.”
Dr Daniel Coelho, MD, FACS
Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in Richmond, Virginia
Professor Coelho presented his work with the Punch Technique. He presented data on 30 adult patients who underwent bone anchored hearing aid implant placement with the punch technique.
Day two of the meeting included round table sessions—what topic came up the most?
“A lot of the conversation at the round tables consistent of talking about the use of a wider implant. While most implants are 3.75mm, there is an implant that’s been out for a year now that has a diameter of 4.5mm. The wider diameter improves the stability of the implant in the bone. Because of this improved stability, we can put the hearing device on sooner than what we are now [3 months].”
What conclusions can you make about the future based on the Scientific Meeting?
“Techniques are really based on the surgeon’s personal preferences and who their mentors are—methods are based on philosophy and what implant technique information he/she has access to—that’s why meetings such as this are so important if we are to change the way we do things for the better. The conclusion I can make is though long-term data on tissue preservation surgery is still lacking, the short-term outcomes are promising. Going forward, I believe surgeons will continue to study and collect data with the goal of achieving the absolute best results possible for our patients.”
Michael Shepherd shares his experience with his Oticon Ponto Pro.
“It has actually let me come out of my shell. In a group of people, I struggled so much. I pretty much went off by myself. This has let me overcome that. I’m so happy that I’ve had this done. I would not change anything.”
We’re excited to share the acquisition of Neurelec, because it brings new capabilities in Cochlear Implants. With the acquisition of Neurelec SA by parent company William Demant Group, Oticon Medical enters a strategically important growth area for hearing implant technology. Neurelec is a pioneer in cochlear implant technology that benefits people with severe to profound hearing loss. Cochlear implant technology represents a natural next step for Oticon Medical, a company that in just three years has captured nearly a quarter of the world market in bone anchored hearing solutions for conductive or mixed hear- ing loss and single-sided deafness. The integration of Neurelec’s cochlear implant expertise with Oticon’s strengths in audiology, signal processing and wireless technology creates the potential for highly innovative products. These synergies, combined with the considerable reach of Oticon Medical’s international distribution network, will increase the ability to bring treatment and successful outcomes to more patients than ever before.
“Oticon Medical and Neurelec are a great strategic fit. Together, they enable us to bring more expertise, more experience and more patient-centered innovation to a healthcare arena with growing patient demand,” says Oticon Medical President Jes Olsen. “Cochlear implants and bone anchored hearing solutions address different patient groups, and the two product areas complement and extend each other perfectly. Our focus has con- sistently been on solutions for users that have the strongest needs and we can now offer our professional partners a broader range of implant hearing technology with exceptional sound quality, enhanced aesthetics, user friendliness and reliability.”
The acquisition of Neurelec provides a solid platform for continued growth that optimizes each company’s core com- petencies in their respective areas of implant hearing care. Neurelec, head- quartered in Sophia Antipolis, France, has solid in-house R&D capabilities, state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities and a reputation for high quality cochlear implant technology. The two companies will work closely to develop synergies and the present Neurelec organization in France will be preserved.
Oticon Medical will use the company’s considerable distribution power to support growth and increase share in a market for cochlear implants that has shown annual growth of more than 10% in the past several years. The acquisition gives Neurelec access to valuable resources within the William Demant Group including capital investment in the development of enhanced implant hearing technology for severe hearing losses. As businesses within the William Demant Group, both companies will also benefit from Oticon’s established manu- facturing and logistics infrastructure and 100-plus years of experience in audiology and sound processing and leadership in super power hearing solutions.
Oticon Medical distributes the Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System to a worldwide network of physicians, audiologists and specialty clinics. Neurelec’s cochlear implants are sold to hospitals primarily in France and a few select markets. The ambition is to expand the cochlear implant business internationally and make Neurelec a global player. In the short term, the companies will continue to operate in their current markets and will use a market-by-market approach to reach out to more end-users worldwide.