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The Warsaw Voice » Society » August 2, 2010
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Restoring Hearing and Hope
August 2, 2010   
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Prof. Henryk Skarżyński, head of the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing in Warsaw, talks to Zofia Szelińska.

What is Poland’s status in the world when it comes to treating partial and total deafness?
I launched a program to treat total deafness in Polish children and adults in July 1992, which means our debut in this field came more than 20 years after that of the world’s leading centers.

By now we have provided treatment to over 3,200 patients, which is one of the largest groups to have been operated on at a single hearing treatment facility anywhere in the world. In 2002, I performed the world’s first surgery of partial deafness in an adult person, and in 2004 I was the first person in the world to put a cochlear implant in a child who could hear, but only the lowest tones of speech. The results of my program have been presented at the most important conventions on all continents and the first publication on an operated adult person was published in 2003. Last year, I was in Warsaw, London, Singapore, Manila, Havana, Seattle, Sao Paulo, Naples, Vienna, Lviv, Tenerife, Bangkok and Munich to speak about the newest method using modern technology that I helped create and my surgical techniques.

What patients, how old and with what hearing impairments, can seek help at the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing?
For several years, we have been the global leaders in terms of the number of different kinds of surgery to improve hearing. Does this mean we can help everyone? We do have something to offer to almost everybody. Backed by superb technical facilities, all types of hearing aids used these days, state-of-the-art surgical procedures and vast experience, we have what it takes to give almost everybody a chance. I’m saying “almost,” because from time to time we encounter a case, some congenital or acquired disorder or an injury that prevents us from achieving the kind of success we always strive to achieve.

In psychological and social terms, what does restoring hearing mean to a patient?
It means a new life for them. It means normal development of speech and language, free communication with the outside world and optimal educational and career opportunities. Such patients can work with, and for, many people. Unconstrained access to education is far cheaper than special education. The choice of the right profession makes these people valuable members of the information society of today.

Do you have any good news for patients suffering from recurring sinusitis?

Around 15 percent of the Polish population suffers from sinus problems. So far, surgical treatment of chronic sinusitis allowed doctors to remove overgrown and swollen tissues and restore patency of the sinuses, but such procedures could not really remove the biofilm, that is, the bacteria responsible for the relapses. The bacteria of the biofilm are extremely hard to eradicate pharmacologically, as they can easily adapt to the changing environment. An efficient method to radically cure sinusitis is endoscopic irrigation of the sinuses with a device called a Hydrodebrider. Research shows that the procedure reduces the amount of bacteria by 99 percent. The European launch of this method took place in Poland two months ago at the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing.

Is the institute open to patients from abroad?
It is, as the European Union is an area without boundaries. Anybody can come to the institute and the number of patients from different corners of the world keeps rising. They come from both Western and Eastern Europe. For Eastern Europeans, we are a reference center to introduce the latest techniques for operating on patients in both Warsaw and Minsk, Kiev, St. Petersburg, Hrodna and other cities.
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