A team of surgeons from Culicchia Neurological and CNC Hearing and Balance Center are the only providers in Louisiana performing Auditory Brain Stem Implants, a highly sophisticated surgery to restore hearing to patients who are not candidates for hearing aids or cochlear implants. In the case of Jessica, she lost her hearing almost ten years ago due to a condition called Neurofibromatosis 2, (NF2), which caused tumors to grow on her hearing mechanism, causing deafness.
In the video transcript below, Neurotologist Moises Arriaga describes the procedure that he and Neurosurgeon Frank Culicchia recently performed at West Jefferson Medical Center.
Jessica has a condition called Neurofibromatosis 2, which means that she has a number of tumors but the most significant ones are the ones that affect both of her inner ears in terms of communication. As a result of those tumors, she can’t hear normally. means that she has a number of tumors but the most significant ones are the ones that affect both of her inner ears in terms of communication. As a result of those tumors, she can’t hear normally.
However we removed the tumor on one side and at the same time that the remnant of tumor was removed we were able to place a special implant in her brain stem called an ABI – it actually stimulates the connections in the brain where the hearing nerves go in and so this is a way of trying to stimulate the hearing center even though she doesn’t have an inner ear or hearing nerve on either side. There are a number of steps in all of this. Obviously, step #1 is to get the tumor out. Step #2 is to place the ABI in the brain stem in the appropriate location and that’s probably the most time-consuming part of everything. The device is stimulated and tiny little electrical impulses are recorded from the brain to make sure it’s just in the right position. After things heal up, the device is activated and the first time it’s turned on, because it’s affecting the stem of the brain, we actually do it with her hooked up to a heart monitor and to make sure that no other funny reactions occur. Then after that, it’s similar to a cochlear implant in that we have to program the electrodes to simulate what you would be hearing in a regular situation.
Jessica: When I lost my hearing I was very confused not really knowing how to feel about it. It was very frustrating. And being able to hear sounds, No matter how minor or soft, it was like… okay!
Question: So you feel like being able to hear the sounds around better has given you a greater sense of independence and safety? Answer: Most definitely. I am so grateful I don’t necessarily need someone around me all the time.
Question: Is it getting easier to identify sounds around you as you’re wearing it?
Answer: Yes. It’s easier to identify sounds say, like, if somebody is talking or even if the TV is still on.
Jessica’s mother: I would say the greatest thing has been her awareness. I know just driving and she’s able to hear various sounds in the house and it is really wonderful. One day she heard my husband sneeze and and he was like: did you hear me? And she said: I could hear you sneeze. Or the water was running and she asked: Is water on. It’s just the amazement …the things that we take for granted that was at some point removed from her but now have been given back to her through this procedure. And we are just so grateful for the quality of hearing that she does have because she had none.