PGI to soon perform clinical trial of cheap cochlear implants

PGI to soon perform clinical trial of cheap cochlear implants

Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, February 11

The Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, is among the five medical institutes in the country to soon perform a human clinical trial for the world’s cheapest cochlear implants for hearing-impaired.

What is cochlear implant?

  • A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device that replaces the function of the damaged inner ear. Unlike hearing aids, which make sounds louder, cochlear implants bypass the damaged hair cells of the inner ear (cochlea) to provide sound signals to the brain. This device is capable of bringing back a profound deaf person to normal hearing. Majority of people who belong to the lower economic strata are currently deprived of this facility due to the unaffordable cost of the currently available products and the higher cost is mainly due to non-availability of indigenous implants.

The implant was approved for the human clinical trial in 2016, but got delayed due to change in the prototype of the equipment. The high cost of imported implants inspired Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to develop these devices.

Dr APJ Abdul Kalam had envisioned the dream of cochlear implant (or bionic ear) to be made available at a cost of Rs 1 lakh in 2005 as the cost of implant works out to nearly Rs 6 lakh to Rs 8 lakh per piece and the total cost of the operation, including rehabilitation, will work out to Rs 10 lakh per patient.

“The human trial for cochlear implants by the PGI is underway. All four medical institutes performed their first surgery recently. Each institute has to perform 10 cases in order to see the viability of the project,” Dr Naresh K Panda, Head of the Department of Otolaryngology, said during a press conference here at the PGIMER today.

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