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Surgery performed for rare ear condition in 26-year-old man

Problem, known as tinnitus, usually affects older people, says doctor at a city hospital

A 26-year-old man recently underwent surgery in a city hospital in his middle ear for a rare condition.

Venkat Ramanan had been suffering from a ringing in his ear since April 2019 and he tried conventional medicines but got no relief. The condition is known as tinnitus, a problem in the middle ear.

He could not sleep well and lost focus on daily activities.

Doctors could not find the reason for the condition. He was finally referred to the Institute of Neurosciences and Spinal Disorders at MGM Healthcare.

Investigations revealed that the (labyrinthine) artery abutting the auditory nerve was the problem, said K. Sridhar, director and group head of the institute.

“The MRl showed a possible blood vessel hitting the nerve. Various options were considered for two-and-a-half months before the doctors decided to go in for surgery,” he said.

The procedure was to relieve pressure on the nerve from the artery. “The surgery, microvascular decompression (MVD) of the cochlear nerve, entailed a highly precise and delicate microsurgical procedure under high magnification to move the artery away from the nerve and ensure that it stays that way, thus eradicating the problem,” he explained. Even a small error could result in the patient becoming deaf and developing facial weakness as a bunch of nerves are bundled in the region, he said. Dr. Sridhar said he made a small incision in the back of the ear and separated the blood vessel pressing on the nerve. A few muscles, the size of finger nails, were placed between the nerve and the artery to separate the two.

The patient was able to walk the next day.

Usually tinnitus affects older people. In such young persons it is a rarity, Dr. Sridhar said. MVD is offered to treat trigeminal neuralgia (shock like pain over the face due to compression of nerves) but it was used in treating tinnitus for the first time now, he added.

According to him, there are just 44 recorded cases the world over and none in the country till date.

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