UT Southwestern Medical Center is currently conducting a trial of the DUET Electric-Acoustic System from MED-EL Corp., a hearing aid that combines a cochlear implant with a standard in-ear unit.
Initial studies on the hybrid device suggest there is a synergistic effect achieved by maintaining the natural hearing and coupling it with the cochlear implant, particularly for distinguishing speech in noisy environments. The device both amplifies low frequencies and electronically stimulates middle and high frequencies.
The implant is specifically designed with a thin electrode to occupy less space in the inner ear. It is implanted by special surgical techniques to preserve natural hearing.
“What patients can hope to get from the investigational device is a significant improvement in the ability to understand speech, especially in a noisy situation,” said Dr. Peter Roland, chairman of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at UT Southwestern.
The device is made by MED-EL Corp., which conducts the initial patient screening for the trial. The device is still investigational, so all of the potential risks are not known, Dr. Roland said. The most common serious complication is loss of what hearing is left in the ear that receives the implant. The opposite ear is unaffected. Significant hearing loss has occurred in 10 percent to 15 percent of recipients to date.
Press release: UT Southwestern testing new hybrid hearing device combining advantages of hearing aids, implants …
Product page: The DUET speech processor…
Flashback: MED-EL Corporation’s new Cochlear Implant System