Hearing in 3-dimensions?
If you’ve been wondering what the point of 3-D printing is, let us introduce you to a new development in hearing health.
A team of Harvard researchers and surgeons in the USA have developed a 3-D printed graft that can be implanted to repair a damaged eardrum.
Called the PhonoGraft, this innovation has just entered commercial development and aims to solve the pain and hearing loss of eardrum perforation – a problem that affects millions of people worldwide.
The eardrum, known as the tympanic membrane, is a thin membrane that conducts sound in the ear and protects against any nasties like bacteria or viruses that may find their way into this delicate part of the auditory system.
Unfortunately, the eardrum can be damaged, or perforated, by sudden extremely loud noise, injury or a severe ear infection. This usually requires surgery to repair the damage with tissue grafts from the individual – a procedure that has varying degrees of success. This is usually because the graft doesn’t match the structure of the eardrum and has reduced sound-conducting abilities.
The structure of the PhonoGraft, which took six years to develop, mimics that of a normal eardrum and guides the regeneration of real eardrum tissue. Because it mimics and then restores the eardrum’s sound-conducting properties and protective functions the graft is more likely to promote permanent repair – reducing the potential for multiple surgeries to correct damage.
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