Sarah Goodwin

Kathi Ovnic
Holly Korschun
June 1, 1998
ENT Tips From Emory

Quick, Painless Procedure Reduces Habitual Snoring

Using a painless new procedure performed in 10 minutes in their clinic offices, Emory otolaryngologists Todd Kingdom, M.D. and John DelGaudio, M.D., are restoring a restful night's sleep to habitual snorers and their loved ones. The unique procedure, called Somnoplasty, reduces excess tissue under the soft palate by using a small electrode that emits very low levels of radiofrequency to heat the tissue without burning it.

New Technology Provides Effective Relief for Chronic Stuffy Noses

Emory University ENT physicians are using a quick, new outpatient procedure to relieve stuffy noses in people suffering from enlarged turbinates the mucous membrane-covered bony structures that protrude into the nasal airway and help cleanse and humidify air. Emory surgeons John DelGaudio, M.D. and Todd Kingdom, M.D., using a new technology called Somnoplasty, reduce the enlarged tissue in a stuffed-up nose using a small electrode that emits very low levels of radiofrequency energy to heat and reduce tissue.

Stealth Technology Makes Complex Sinus Surgery Safer and More Effective

A computer-assisted technology for complicated sinus surgery cases is giving surgeons much more confidence in the safety and effectiveness of what can sometimes be a dangerous procedure. "Sinus surgery can be very dangerous in revision cases where a patient has already had multiple surgeries and the anatomy is distorted," says Emory ENT surgeon Todd Kingdom, M.D. The biggest risk of sinus surgery is injury to the brain or eye. In image-guided sinus surgery called stealth technology, surgeons use a hand-held probe in the patient's nose while correlating their position with a special CT scan of the patient's sinuses visible on a computer screen.

Cochlear Implants Make Deaf Children Into "Listening, Speaking Communicators"

Emory University is one of three centers nationwide participating in a study on cochlear implants for children as young as 18 months. Cochlear implants have been approved by the FDA for children over age 2 since 1990, and are normally used only in children who are "profoundly deaf" and cannot benefit from hearing aids. Cochlear implants transmit electrical impulses from electrodes in an implant under the scalp to the hearing nerve. The electronic impulses are translated through a small computerized monitor worn around the waist.

Emory ENT surgeon Wendell Todd, M.D., has implanted more than 65 of the devices. He describes himself as "very conservative" and initially a skeptic about cochlear implants. Now he is a true believer. "All of us have dreams, and usually our dreams are shattered by the cold reality of things. This is one of those peculiar circumstances in which something works better than any of us every dreamed. These folks can get enough information to be listening, speaking communicators. We have children in regular kindergarten and first grade that unless you looked at the hardware, you could not tell the child ever had a problem. It's sort of miraculous."

Ear Damage Can Mean Brain Damage Also

Excessive noise not only destroys the delicate hairs in your inner ear that transmit sound waves, it also may damage parts of the brain stem responsible for hearing, according to research by Emory otolaryngologist Douglas Mattox, M.D. Mattox has shown that the effects of noise on hearing loss can extend into the brain itself by damaging the neurons leading from the ear to the brain.

Effects of Tinnitus Range From Mere Annoyance to Significant Impairment

The phantom perception of sound, called tinnitus, while only a minor annoyance to the vast majority of people who suffer from it, is a major quality of life issue for a certain group of patients. Tinnitus can be perceived as a ringing, hissing or buzzing noise, a cricket sound or a pounding one. "Probably 20% of the population experiences tinnitus at some point," says Emory otolaryngologist Douglas Mattox, M.D. and the incidence increases with age. Approximately one-third of senior citizens have had some tinnitus, but they don't really suffer from it. About four million people in the U.S. are significantly impaired by tinnitus. Treatment focuses on trying to reverse negative associations about the phantom noises and controlled use of external sound.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Is Cumulative and May Be Permanent

Hearing loss caused by excessive noise can be either temporary or permanent, and is related to the amount of sound, not whether you like it or not, says Emory otolaryngologist Douglas Mattox, M.D. Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by any exposure to loud sounds, including industrial noises like heavy equipment, car stereos, walkmans, and even small, unmufflered gasoline lawnmowers and leafblowers. After a loud rock concert, if your ears ring and feel a little stuffy, but the feeling goes away within eight hours, that's temporary, says Mattox. But real damage is caused when any of the 20,000 hair cells within the inner ear are destroyed. Those hair cells are a non-renewable resource, and the damage is cumulative.

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