Monthly Archives: August 2011

Spotlight: Superior Semicircular Canal Dehiscence Syndrome

What is superior semicircular canal dehiscence syndrome?
Superior semicircular canal dehiscence syndrome (or SSCDS) is a condition where the normal bony covering of the superior semicircular canal (one of the three balance canals that respond to angular acceleration) is missing. This essentially results in direct contact between the covering of the brain and the lining of this superior balance canal.

What type of symptoms do patients with SSCDS have?
Many, but not all, patients with SSCDS have dizziness. This dizziness may be brought on by loud noises, such as the clanging of dishes together, or by pressure changes, such as sneezing, coughing, or straining. Some patients report hearing their heartbeat in the affected ear and often complain of ear fullness. Many patients describe that their voice sounds louder in one particular ear as well. Other less common symptoms include hearing one’s own eye movements and hearing one’s own footsteps on certain surfaces (watch this video: Inside Todd’s Head).

What causes SSCDS?
Currently the exact cause of SSCDS is not known. It is likely that some individuals are predisposed to the thinning of bone in certain areas of the skull base, leading to problems such as SSCDS. Additionally, head trauma may play a role in certain cases of SSCDS. Not all individuals with a dehiscence of the superior semicircular canal (as might be seen on a special CAT scan and verified by certain tests) actually have symptoms.

How is SSCDS treated?
SSCDS treatment must be individualized to each particular patient. While there is no specific medical therapy for SSCDS, various surgical management options are available.

The information and reference materials included on this website are intended solely for the general information and education purposes of the reader. They are not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice or to diagnose health problems. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to discuss the information presented here.

Patient Testimonial: Cochlear implant saves a deaf & blind man’s hearing

At 25 years old, a brain tumor in the front left of Douglas LaFayette’s brain created optic nerve problems and eventually stole away his eyesight. Over the next several years, LaFayette experienced more tumors in his brain and ears. Eventually, he lost hearing because of a tumor. In June 2009, he woke up deaf.

“I thought I was going to lose my mind,” LaFayette said. “It’s like I was trapped in my body.”

LaFayette, 49, experienced sudden hearing loss in his left ear and lost hearing in his right progressively. LaFayette spent close to a year and a half almost completely blind and deaf. His wife, Janice, had to spell out letters on his hand to communicate. Before hearing about the option of cochlear implants at JHBI, the LaFayette family thought Douglas would be deaf for the rest of his life.

Douglas and his son, Nathaniel

“It’d take an hour to get a five-word sentence across,” Janice said. “He couldn’t write anything because he couldn’t see it. You get to a point where you have grieved the death of that relationship. And then you grieve over what could have been done if all the options had been known. He was trapped and we couldn’t communicate.”

In October 2010, LaFayette underwent surgery to receive a cochlear implant on his left ear. Eventually, he wants to get one in his right as well.

“People really need to know about cochlear implants,” LaFayette said. “I was told too much damage was already done. But I can hear now with my cochlear.”

Everything is different now for the LaFayette family. Douglas can converse on the phone with family he could not speak to for a year and hear his son laughing as he plays.

“It was very hard on a family and trying to raise a child as well,” LaFayette said. “But the best part is being able to hear all the words. Being able to hear ‘I love you’ from my wife. That’s the really cool part, being able to talk on the phone to my family.”

Patient Testimonial: How a Man Kept His Job

A man with a bad cold he just couldn’t shake woke up one morning, answered his cell phone, and realized he was deaf. With 12 percent hearing in his left ear and 78 percent in his right, Leon Woody, 52, knew he would have to do something quickly to maintain his management position at work.

“When I answered my cell phone that morning, I thought I had a bad connection,” Woody said. “Then I realized it was my left ear, not a bad connection. I went to a lot of doctors and they all said they couldn’t do anything for me.”

But Woody came to Dr. Green at JHBI in hopes that there was still a remedy. Dr. Green performed surgery to give Woody a cochlear implant in each ear. It has been three years and Woody cannot say enough about the “amazing instruments” in his ear.

“I couldn’t do it without them. It took a while, but now I can get back in front of groups. I challenged myself to get in front of people and communicate. Without the hearing aids, I couldn’t be working. I don’t know what would have happened.”

After receiving an internal cochlear implant, a patient wears external speech processors. Woody said that if he is not wearing the processors, he cannot hear anything at all. His co-workers do not understand that he truly cannot hear without them. To get his ears used to hearing noises again and understanding pitch and tone, Woody practiced listening to books on tape and music on the radio.

“I can’t say enough about the staff. They’ve done an excellent job working through the issues and making my wife and I feel comfortable and understanding the process.”

Our professional staff is here to help with hearing loss diagnosis and treatment every step of the way.

JHBI Grants Hearing to a Nigerian Professor

For more than 32 years, a mathematics professor in Nigeria had normal hearing. But after three weeks of fever and medication, his hearing became so bad that he could hardly hear a gunshot.

In 2002, Stephen Yaukubu Kutchin woke up one morning with most of his hearing ability gone. A mathematics professor at the University of Jos in Nigeria, Kutchin spent more than five years with limited hearing ability. He frequently asked people to write what they were saying to him and had several uncomfortable encounters with people who did not understand how to interact with a hearing-impaired person. His partial deafness severely limited his ability to teach his classes in a timely matter.

“My social life suffered immensely; I had to stop attending meetings or social gatherings,” Kutchin recalled. “Radio and musical instruments became useless to me. I had to lose many of my friends. Some of them were those who couldn’t write. There was no way for me to communicate directly to those that could not write. Those included the small children. There was no way I could communicate with even sighted people once it was dark. The worst were my students and friends who were blind. I had to keep away from any function that had anything to do with hearing.”

Dr. Green met Kutchin in 2005 through Dr. Joel Anthis, an American ear, nose and throat physician who was working full-time in a Christian missionary hospital in Jos, Nigeria. Dr. Green brought two cochlear implant systems to Nigeria, fitted Kutchin with an implant, and left him in the care of Dr. Anthis.

“Humanly speaking and going by my income; there was no wisdom for me to even dream of ever having such a surgery,” Kutchin said.

However, the wound did not heal properly and the implant was removed. Back at square one, Kutchin thought it was the end of the road for good. But a year later, Dr. Green again traveled to Nigeria and offered Kutchin the chance to visit Jacksonville, Fla., and have cochlear implant surgery free of charge. Kutchin gratefully accepted and spent his time in the United States as a guest of Dr. Green and his family during his period of medical assessments, surgery and healing.

Before the implant surgery, Kutchin suffered from tinnitus, a continuous ringing in the ears. It often spoiled his days and woke him from his sleep. Now back in Nigeria, Kutchin said both his sound perception and speech perception are remarkable.

“My cochlear implantation system has continued to amaze me,” Kutchin stated. “With the device, my sound perception is more than 100 percent normal. The volume of the speech processor can be regulated so I am able to hear sound as audible as I choose to.”

Dr. Green made Kutchin’s visit to the States memorable and allowed him to become part of his family.

“He did so to celebrate the recovery of my hearing since my family could not be around to celebrate with me this life changing event,” Kutchin remarked. “Dr. Green wishes to do more.”

To read the full report written by Stephen Yaukubu Kutchin, please click here.

For information about Hearing Help for Africa, a non-profit organization with the goal of improving ear-related medical conditions for Africans by expanding medical education opportunities for African physicians, please click here.

Patient Testimonial: BAHA treatment for former NJ policeman

It was mid-morning when a former New Jersey policeman found himself being dragged by his left arm through a window of a car down a narrow street. He was simply trying to ticket the driver; instead, he found himself fighting for his arm and his life.

This incident, along with a history of multiple ear infections, led to mixed hearing loss and severe damage to his ears. After five years of numerous surgeries in various hospitals across the country, Gilsenan, 63, now has an osseointegrated sound processor (bone anchored hearing aid or BAHA) in both ears and can finally hear again. He credits it all to JHBI.

“Dr. Green is a unique man. He is dedicated to people. He takes his time. His mannerism is so gentle, yet his knowledge is so massive,” Gilsenan said.

Gilsenan, of East Orange, NJ, was one of the first patients in Jacksonville to receive the BAHA treatment, which Gilsenan said seems to stop the effects of tinnitus. The BAHA system uses the body’s natural ability to conduct sound through bone. The BAHA sound processors are implanted through osseointegration, which is the process of the bone growing up to the implant surface (similar to a dental implant).

“I’ve never met a doctor who so greatly wanted to help people,” Gilsenan said. “He finds a way. I just know he’s going to take care of me because of the principles he carries.”

JHBI is pleased to offer the BAHA implant to treat hearing loss. Our professional staff is experienced in the medical and surgical treatment of auditory problems.

Siemens Aquaris: The First Waterproof Hearing Aid

Here at JHBI, we only work with hearing aid manufacturers that have proven dependability and feature the most up-to-date technology. When you come to our office for a hearing aid consultation, our certified audiologists will provide you with important information as you consider purchasing a hearing aid. We are here to help you every step of the way.

The Siemens brand has proven its innovative technology with Aquaris, the first dust-proof, waterproof and shock-resistant hearing aid. It is useful for people whose daily life includes water contact and physical activity.

We fit a 13-year-old competitive swimmer with the Aquaris hearing aids, and now the young girl is able to hear the buzzer from the starting block, dive in the water and swim her way to victory with the new ability to hear as she swims.

Aquaris is perfect for golfers sweating all day in the Florida heat or for gardeners weeding around grass and dirt. It’s the solution for runners waiting to hear the starting buzzer before sprinting to the finish line. No matter the sport or activity, Aquaris features the technology necessary for success.

We proudly use and service the Siemens Aquaris here at JHBI.