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July 16, 2007, 10:19 PM CT

Reanimating Paralyzed Faces

Reanimating Paralyzed Faces
A surgical technique known as temporalis tendon transfer, in conjunction with intense physical treatment before and after surgery, may help reanimate the features of those with facial paralysis, as per a report in the July/recent issue of Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

The rehabilitation of facial paralysis is one of the greatest challenges faced by reconstructive surgeons today, the authors write as background information in the article. It is an unfortunate fact that there is no ideal procedure that leads to the return of fully normal facial function. Furthermore, every case of facial paralysis is different in the cause of the paralysis, the degree and location of the paralysis and the resulting condition of the facial musculature and surrounding soft tissue envelope. A number of patients have excessive movement in some areas of the face and no movement in others; as a result, surgeons treating this condition must be able to perform multiple types of procedures and understand the underlying neurologic dysfunction.

Patrick J. Byrne, M.D., and his colleagues at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, report the results of seven facial paralysis patients treated with temporalis tendon transfer. This technique typically involves an incision beginning at the ear and ending 3 to 4 centimeters into the hairline at the temple. The temporalis muscle, a fan-shaped muscle on the side of the head, is cut at the point that it connects to the jawbone and released from the tissue surrounding it. Then, it is stretched to the point where the muscles of the mouth join together. The tendon that previously connected the temporalis muscle to the jawbone is cut free and then stretched horizontally for 3 to 4 centimeters; it is sutured to the surrounding muscles and deep skin tissue. Physical treatment to retrain facial muscles begins before the surgery and continues beginning seven days after the procedure.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 16, 2007, 10:17 PM CT

No Change InTaste After Tonsil Removal

No Change InTaste After Tonsil Removal
In a small study of patients undergoing tonsillectomy, or removal of the tonsils, none reported an ongoing dysfunction in their sense of taste following the procedure, as per a report in the recent issue of Archives of OtolaryngologyHead & Neck Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Together with the sense of smell and nerve impulses in the mouth, the sense of taste contributes considerably to flavor perception during eating and drinking and thus plays a major role in the enjoyment of foods and beverages, as per background information in the article. The sense of taste shows little deterioration during aging but can be weakened by disease or medications. Accidental nerve damage during some medical procedures, including radiation therapy, middle ear surgery, dental or oral surgery or tonsillectomy, also can cause taste dysfunction.

Christian A. Mueller, M.D., of the University of Vienna, Austria, and his colleagues asked 65 tonsillectomy patients (42 females, 23 males; average age 28) to rate their own sense of smell and taste before surgery on a scale of zero to 100, where zero is no sense of taste or smell and 100 is an excellent sense of taste and smell. Taste function and sensitivity also was assessed one day before surgery with gustatory testing, during which taste strips for four concentrations of sweet, sour, salty and bitter were applied to both sides of the front and back areas of the tongue. Between 64 and 173 days after surgery, patients were asked to report any changes to their sense of taste or smell and again asked to rate them from zero to 100. Gustatory testing waccording toformed again on 32 patients.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


June 7, 2007, 7:34 PM CT

Cochlear Implant Restores Hearing

Cochlear Implant Restores Hearing
Scientists at Georgetown University Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have, for the first time, used a "bionic" ear to restore hearing in a patient with von Hippel-Lindau disease. They say this advance offers new hope for individuals with the rare disorder, which can produce non-cancerous tumors in ears, as well as in the eyes, brain, and kidneys.

The advance was possible, scientists say, because their years of research into the disease showed that these tumors do not affect the cochlear nerve necessary for receipt of sound in the brain. The device they used is known as a cochlear implant, which stimulates the cochlear nerve with electrical impulses. It is predominately used to treat the deaf.

"Based on our understanding of how these tumors affect the inner ear, we felt that a cochlear implant could work, and it did," said the study's lead author, H. Jeffrey Kim, M.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery, and a part-time investigator at the NIH, where the surgery waccording toformed. Two years after the surgery, the implant has significantly improved the quality of life of the patient, he said.

Based on this successful surgery, which was published as a case report in the recent issue of the journal Otology & Neurology, patients with von Hippel-Lindau disease with hearing loss may be now be candidates for a cochlear implant, Kim said. The disease, caused by inheritance of a mutated tumor suppressor gene, occurs in 1 out of 36,000 live births, and about 30 percent of these patients develop tumors in their ears--often in both. To date, the only option to help control these tumors is repeated surgery, which is often not successful, he said. Loss of hearing is sudden, and hearing aids don't help, Kim said.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


March 27, 2007, 9:02 PM CT

One membrane, many frequencies

One membrane, many frequencies
Modern hearing aids, though quite sophisticated, still do not faithfully reproduce sound as hearing people perceive it. New findings at the Weizmann Institute of Science shed light on a crucial mechanism for discerning different sound frequencies and thus may have implications for the design of better hearing aids.

Research by Dr. Itay Rousso of the Weizmann Institutes Structural Biology Department, which recently appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), suggests that a thin structure in the inner ear called the tectorial membrane responds to different frequencies. This membrane communicates between the outer hair cells (which amplify sound in the form of mechanical vibrations) and the inner hair cells (which convert these mechanical vibrations to electrical signals and pass them on to the brain via the auditory nerve). If certain genes for this membrane are missing or damaged, total deafness ensues.

Rousso and research student Rachel Gueta, together with scientists at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, wanted to explore the mechanical properties of the tectorial membrane. Using an atomic force microscope, which probes surfaces with a fine microscopic needle, they tested the resistance of the gel-like membrane at various points to assess precisely how rigid or flexible it was. To their surprise, the researchers observed that the level of rigidity varies significantly along the length of the membrane: One end of the membrane can be up to ten times more rigid than the other.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


March 22, 2007, 10:37 PM CT

Viral enzyme recruited in fight against ear infection

Viral enzyme recruited in fight against ear infection
Parents might one day give their children a weekly therapy with a nasal spray of virus enzymes to prevent them from getting a severe middle ear infection, based on results of a study done in mice by researchers from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and The Rockefeller University in New York. Such a therapy would kill the disease-causing bacteria without the use of antibiotics, thereby avoiding the problem of antibiotic resistance. A report on this study appears in the recent issue of the online journal "PLoS Pathogens."

Middle ear infection, also called acute otitis media, is an inflammation of the middle ear space that can cause pain, fever, irritability, lack of appetite and vomiting. The middle ear is the space just before the eardrum. About half of all children carry the bacteria that cause acute otitis media, which migrate from the nose and throat to the middle ear after an initial influenza virus infection paves the way.

The researchers based their therapy on the ability of viruses called phages to break out of bacteria they infect by using a special enzyme to destroy the cell walls. Phages infect bacteria in a way that is similar to how viruses infect animal cells. Once inside, the virus hijacks the cells biochemical machinery and forces it to make a number of copies of the virus. After the new crop of viruses is made, a viral enzyme breaks apart the infected bacterial cell wall and allows the new viruses to escape and infect additional cells.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


March 13, 2007, 10:20 PM CT

why we smell better when we sniff?

why we smell better when we sniff? Cross section of olfactory sensory neurons in a mouse nose visualized by fluorescent staining.
Credit: Huikai Tian, PhD, Minghong Ma, PhD, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
Unlike most of our sensory systems that detect only one type of stimuli, our sense of smell works double duty, detecting both chemical and mechanical stimuli to improve how we smell, as per University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine scientists in the recent issue of Nature Neuroscience.

This finding, plus the fact that both types of stimuli produce reaction in olfactory nerve cells, which control how our brain perceives what we smell, explains why we sniff to smell something, and why our sense of smell is synchronized with inhaling.

"The driving force for such synchronization remained a mystery for more than 50 years," says senior author Minghong Ma, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience. "These results help us understand how the mammalian olfactory system encodes and decodes odor information in the environment".

Scientists tested two different types of stimulation on olfactory neurons in mice: chemical stimuli, such as those used in making perfumes that have almond-like and banana-like scents, and mechanical stimuli, that is pressure carried by air flow to the nostrils while breathing.

The group did this first by puffing a chemical stimulus into the nose. As expected, this produced a reaction in the olfactory neurons, the primary sensory neurons in the nose that perceive odors. Scientists then puffed a solution without the chemical stimuli into the mouse's nose. This also produced a similar, but smaller reaction in the olfactory neurons. By decreasing pressure of the non-odor solution, they also observed that the reaction in the olfactory neurons was less, confirming that it was sensitive to mechanical stimulation.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


March 13, 2007, 9:41 PM CT

Jet Engines Solve the Mysteries of the Voice

Jet Engines Solve the Mysteries of the Voice
Eventhough researchers know about basic voice production-the two "vocal folds" in the larynx vibrate and pulsate airflow from the lungs-the larynx is one of the body's least understood organs.

Sound produced by vocal-fold vibration has been extensively researched, but the specifics of how airflow actually affects sound have not been shown using an animal model-until now.

Vortices, or areas of rotational motion that look like smoke rings, produce sound in jet engines. New research from the University of Cincinnati (UC) uses methods developed from the study of jet noise to identify similar vortices in an animal model.

Sid Khosla, MD, lead author of the study, says vortices may help explain why individual voices are different and can have a different richness and quality to their sound.

"If vortices didn't affect sound production, the voice would sound mechanical," says Khosla, assistant professor of otolaryngology. "The vortices can produce sound by many mechanisms. This complexity produces a sound that makes my voice different from yours."

Khosla and his team report their findings in the March edition of the Annals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology.

"Understanding how airflow patterns affect sound in a jet engine (aeroacoustics) helps us determine how we can reduce jet noise," says coauthor Ephraim Gutmark, PhD, a UC professor of aerospace engineering. "We can apply the same physical understanding of aeroacoustics to study normal and abnormal voice".........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


March 12, 2007, 9:25 PM CT

Music Training 'Tunes' Human Auditory System

Music Training 'Tunes' Human Auditory System
A newly published study by Northwestern University scientists suggests that Mom was right when she insisted that you continue music lessons -- even after it was clear that a professional music career was not in your future.

The study, which will appear in the recent issue of Nature Neuroscience, is the first to provide concrete evidence that playing a musical instrument significantly enhances the brainstems sensitivity to speech sounds. This finding has broad implications because it applies to sound encoding skills involved not only in music but also in language.

The findings indicate that experience with music at a young age in effect can "fine-tune" the brain's auditory system. "Increasing music experience appears to benefit all children -- whether musically exceptional or not -- in a wide range of learning activities," says Nina Kraus, director of Northwestern's Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory and senior author of the study.

"Our findings underscore the pervasive impact of musical training on neurological development. Yet music classes are often among the first to be cut when school budgets get tight. That's a mistake," says Kraus, Hugh Knowles Professor of Neurobiology and Physiology and professor of communication sciences and disorders.

"Our study is the first to ask whether enhancing the sound environment -- in this case with musical training -- will positively affect the way an individual encodes sound even at a level as basic as the brainstem," says Patrick Wong, primary author of "Musical Experience Shapes Human Brainstem Encoding of Linguistic Pitch Patterns." An old structure from an evolutionary standpoint, the brainstem once was thought to only play a passive role in auditory processing.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 15, 2007, 6:28 AM CT

Low-pitch Treatment For Tinnitus

Low-pitch Treatment For Tinnitus
For those who pumped up the volume one too a number of times, UC Irvine scientists may have found a therapy for the hearing damage loud music can cause.

Fan-Gang Zeng and his colleagues have identified an effective way to treat the symptoms of tinnitus, a form of hearing damage typically marked by high-pitched ringing that torments more than 60 million Americans. A low-pitched sound, the scientists discovered, applied by a simple MP3 player suppressed and provided temporary relief from the high-pitch ringing tone linked to the disorder.

Tinnitus is caused by injury, infection or the repeated bombast of loud sound, and can appear in one or both ears. It's no coincidence that a number of rock musicians, and their fans, suffer from it. Eventhough known for its high-pitched ringing, tinnitus is an internal noise that varies in its pitch and frequency. Some therapys exist, but none are consistently effective.

Zeng presented his study Feb. 13 at the Middle Winter Research Conference for Otolaryngology in Denver.

"Tinnitus is one of the most common hearing disorders in the world, but very little is understood about why it occurs or how to treat it," said Zeng, a professor of otolaryngology, biomedical engineering, cognitive sciences, and anatomy and neurobiology. "We are very pleased and surprised by the success of this treatment, and hopefully with further testing it will provide needed relief to the millions who suffer from tinnitus".........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


November 6, 2006, 7:53 PM CT

Most Ear Infections Host Both Bacteria And Viruses

Most Ear Infections Host Both Bacteria And Viruses
Ear infections are among the most common diseases seen in pediatric practice. They have generally been considered bacterial diseases and are therefore commonly treated with antibiotics. New research, reported in the December 15 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases and currently available online, provides evidence that viruses are found in a great a number of ear infection cases and may complicate therapy.

The scientists used a variety of laboratory techniques to identify the pathogen that caused ear infections, known clinically as acute otitis media (AOM), in 79 young children. They found bacteria in 92 percent of the cases, viruses in 70 percent, and both bacteria and viruses in 66 percent.

As per Aino Ruohola, MD, PhD, from the Turku University Hospital in Finland and lead author of the study, "the major finding of the study is that acute otitis media is a coinfection of bacteria and viruses in the great majority of children. This is actually logical since acute otitis media is virtually always connected to viral respiratory infection".

Antibiotics, which are effective against the bacteria that cause AOM, have no effect on the viruses found in AOM infections. Therefore, the standard therapy for AOM--antibiotics--can be, at best, partially effective in the majority of cases. "Based on this and prior research," said Dr. Ruohola, "it is possible that viruses cause a considerable proportion of clinical therapy failures. Thus, in these cases a new antibiotic is not necessarily the best choice eventhough bacteria resistant to common antibiotics are wide-spread."........

Posted by: Sue      Permalink         Source



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Did you know?
Among elderly patients with profound hearing loss, age at time of receipt of an electronic hearing device known as a cochlear implant does not predict subsequent hearing ability, as per a studyin the recent issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

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