NHS looks to fund new brain surgery for deaf children
NHS England has recently announced plans to fund innovative new brain surgery for children who are deaf. The surgery will allow them to experience hearing for the first time, and is set to be made routinely available.
The Auditory Brainstem Implants (ABIs) surgery will be performed by two highly specialist teams at hospitals in Manchester and London on children aged five or under who are greatly deaf and unable to use conventional hearing aids or implants due to their cochlea or auditory nerve not developing 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.
After insertion, 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.
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.”
Approximately 15 children per year would be assessed for the auditory brainstem implantation and that about nine would go on to have the surgery, which costs around £60,000 per patient.