Auditory Brainstem Implant surgery is now routinely available, NHS England announced over Easter weekend.
Two highly specialist teams at hospitals in Manchester and London will perform Auditory Brainstem Implants (ABIs) surgery for children who are deaf across the country.
The surgery is for children who are profoundly deaf, aged five or under, who are unable to use conventional hearing aids or implants because their inner ear (cochlea) or auditory nerve did not develop properly.
The highly complex procedure involves inserting a device directly into the brain to stimulate hearing pathways, bypassing the cochlea and auditory nerve that have not developed properly.
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS medical director, said: “This truly life-changing surgery, which allows youngsters to hear their parents’ voices for the first time, will now be available across England for children who are deaf who have no other options. As we put the NHS Long Term Plan into practice, the health service will continue to make the very latest, innovative treatments, like this, available to patients across the country along with world class care.”
After the implant has been inserted, long-term support is crucial to help children learn to listen and understand new signals from their implant. This may be as simple as recognising their own name being called, but it may also involve understanding simple phrases.
Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London will offer the cutting-edge surgery.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I’m in awe of the extraordinary medical advances made possible by the brilliant specialists working in our NHS. This surgery has the power to transform the futures of young children who are deaf and give fresh hope to more families. Hearing transforms children’s lives. I’m delighted at this progress – all part of our NHS Long Term Plan which will secure the NHS for the future.”
Susan Daniels, Chief Executive of the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “Every deaf child is different and for some, technology like auditory brainstem implants can be the right option and can make a huge difference to their lives.”