While this new treatment won’t make kids listen better, it will help those suffering from the terrible pain of severely blocked ears. A new technique is being successfully used at Rambam HCC.
A new technology now enables catheterization of the Eustachian tube, connecting the middle ear and nasal cavity. Ear canal catheterization is used to solve ear canal problems resulting in loss of hearing, or fluid and pressure in the ear—affecting one in ten Israelis.
Three men, aged 19, 40, and 60, all of whom had suffered from the above problem for years, underwent ear canal catheterization recently for just that problem. They are the first patients in Israel to benefit from this new surgical modality. The procedure was carried out by Rambam physicians, Dr. Morsio Cohen Weiser, head of ear surgery at the Interdisciplinary Center for Head and Neck Medicine and Dr. Dmitry Ostrovsky from the Eye and Sinus Surgery Center.
According to Dr. Cohen Weiser, most problems in the ear canal manifest in young children up to the age of seven. However, in some people these problems do not disappear, or develop at a later age. "The condition is expressed by pain," explains Cohen Weiser, adding, "This is not a simple problem. It affects the quality of life of those who suffer significantly from it."
Unlike the insertion of tubes into the eardrum to release fluids, a common but temporary solution that needs to be repeated, ear canal catheterization can provide a permanent solution for patients.
Victor Baron, 40 was one of Rambam’s first patients. In 2002 he had dived into deep water; afterward he had a painful blockage in his ear. After undergoing repeated tube operations, he was advised that no further surgery was possible due to the potential for permanent damage to his ear.
In search for a second option, he came to Rambam. The rest is history: he and two other patients underwent this new procedure at Rambam. The success for them offers hope to others in Israel suffering from similar problems.
Dr. Cohen Weiser came to Rambam two years ago from Chile, bringing with him extensive experience in treating adults and children via this procedure. Rambam is planning to make the treatment available to children in the future. Dr. Cohen Weiser predicts that as the technology advances, it could replace pediatric ear tubes surgery.
Ear canal catheterization is performed by guiding an endoscope through the nose to the blocked tube. The Eustachian tube has a piece of cartilage, which in most cases is the source of the problem. This area can be expanded using a tiny balloon, leaving behind an opening that is not too wide or too narrow. The treatment is done using a new device manufactured by Spiggle & Theis (Overath, Germany)
Baron recalls, “I met Dr. Cohen Weiser, who told me about the possibility of ear-canal catheterization as the first treatment of its kind in Israel.” He then laughed, “Even though I hear much better, when my wife speaks to me, I sometimes pretend that the operation didn’t work very well.”