A pioneering procedure to treat a debilitating hearing disorder has been carried out at Nuffield Health Tees Hospital.

Mr Anirvan Banerjee, ENT consultant at the not-for-profit private healthcare group, has successfully performed an operation never-before seen in the UK to treat a patient suffering with Hyperacusis, the common yet little-understood condition which causes an intolerance to everyday sounds.

Hyperacusis comes in a variety of forms and can affect people at any age, although it is most often found in children. For some, the condition simply causes certain noises to become uncomfortable or irritating, whereas in extreme cases sufferers experience physical pain when hearing ordinary sounds.

Historically treated with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or counselling, this is the first time that a UK-based practitioner has carried out surgery to treat Hyperacusis.

Mr Banerjee has been working as an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) consultant for Nuffield Health for 14 years, specialising in diseases of the ear. Based between the James Cook University Hospital and Nuffield Health Tees Hospital in Stockton-on-Tees, which was rated outstanding by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in 2017, Mr Banerjee is also the director of the North East Cochlear Implant programme, which aims to restore children who are born deaf with some form of hearing capability.

“When we hear, it is our ear’s job to transfer the mechanical signal into an electrical signal which is then perceived by the brain as sound. Hyperacusis is the abnormal perception of regular sound at the level of the brain which makes everything appear louder than it actually is,” Mr Banerjee explained.

“Because the hypersensitivity is at brain level and not within the ear itself, Hyperacusis is notoriously difficult to treat.

“Basing my research on a procedure that is already in practice to treat Superior Semi-circular Canal Dehiscence Syndrome (SSCD), a condition that affects hearing and balance, I developed a theory for a procedure which would dampen the signals going into the ear in order to under-stimulate the brain to treat Hyperacusis.

“My theory was supported by a US-based ENT consultant who had also experimented with the same principle.”

The US-based consultant, Dr Herbert Silverstein of the Silverstein Institute in Florida referenced Mr Banerjee’s work in a blog post online which is how the UK-based patient came to contact Nuffield Health about trialling the treatment. About the principle behind the procedure itself, Mr Banerjee said:

“The hearing organ within your eardrum is essentially a long tube, curled up to save space, which has two openings at each end, known as the ‘oval window’ and the ‘round window’.

“With procedures to treat SSCD, you can “baffle” the eardrum by placing soft tissue over one of these windows to dampen sound. For the Hyperacusis procedure however, we placed tissue over both of the windows to dampen the soundwaves still further.

“Theoretically, this is a very delicate procedure, but we are absolutely delighted with the results.”

Lesley Lock, hospital director at Nuffield Health Tees Hospital, said:

“At Nuffield Health, we pride ourselves on being able to provide our patients with the best quality of care and the highest level of choice when it comes to their treatment.

“By working alongside specialist consultants at the top of their game, we are able to provide our patients with unprecedented access to cutting-edge procedures, such as the pioneering treatment carried out by Mr Banerjee in our ENT department.

“The level of medical expertise available at Nuffield Health Tees has established the hospital as a centre of excellence for Ear, Nose and Throat treatments in recent years. Mr Banerjee’s innovation has helped us to take this status to the next level and we hope to continue this growth to enable us to improve more patients’ quality of life.”

To find out more about the range of treatments available at Nuffield Health Tees Hospital, visit www.nuffieldhealth.com/hospitals/tees/treatments.