147th Conference of the American Otological Society

American Otological Society is the oldest otological society in the United States. It has almost 150 years of history – the first meeting of the society took place in the Ocean House in Newport on 22 July 1868, when 9 members of the American Ophthalmological Society decided to create a specialized group for problems related to the organ of hearing. Since then the American Otological Society has organized scientific meetings every year.

This year, on the 147th AOS Conference, the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing was represented by Prof. Henryk Skarżyński with a team. Two years ago, during the AOS Conference in San Diego, Prof. Skarżyński was officially nominated a corresponding member of the Society. He is the first Pole in this elite group and one of the few foreigners.

During the AOS Conference only original, never before shown nor published studies may be presented. This year, the AOS Conference participants had the opportunity to learn about the results of research on the possibilities of middle ear implantation conducted in the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing.

The severe mixed hearing loss is a large problem for the contemporary audiology and otosurgery. In many cases the available treatment methods do not produce the desired results. Sometimes both surgical and noninvasive treatments are insufficient or impossible to apply. In perspective, as the studies performed in the Institute show, the new CODACS implant may prove to be an efficient alternative for most popular methods of treatment of this type of HL. Institute’s team presented the audiological results of five patients with the severe mixed HL belonging to the first in the world group of 20 patients who received a chance of such treatment. Results presented on the conference included both the multicenter 6-month follow-up clinical study, and 18-month follow-up after CODACS implantation. Audiological assessment involved impedance and pure-tone audiometry, monosyllabic words in noise and quiet and adaptive sentence tests in noise, as well as loudness scaling in free field. In all five patients an improvement of hearing has been noted. In four of them we observed significant improvement of speech understanding and speech perception threshold in noise compared to their preoperative results in hearing aids. These results imply that the new implantable CODACS system may be an alternative method of treatment of the severe mixed HL.

Second paper presented on the AOS Conference by dr. Piotr H. Skarzynski focused on the controversial topic of the influence of acoustic overload on the central and peripheral nervous system, particularly auditory cortex and lower regions of the auditory pathway. The study included 10 adults with normal hearing. In the first stage, 3T fMRI images of brain activations stimulated by the narrowband sounds with median frequencies 1kHz and 4kHz. To register the effects of acoustic overload, volunteers were subjected to 15 minutes of noise 95dB SPL followed by the repetition of the sound stimulation. fMRI images were obtained using the SPARSE paradigm. The registered effect of auditory overload was the decrease of hemodynamic activity in the thalamus. There was also observed the effect of auditory overload on the auditory cortex, but was not statistically significant. Summarizing, the study proved that the effect of acoustic overload is seen mostly in the thalamus. This area is responsible for the preliminary assessment of the sensory stimuli and therefore may influence other central functions.

Traditionally all studies submitted for the annual AOS Conference participate in the competition. Jury includes the AOS Board, AOS President and former presidents. This estimable group decided to award the study by dr. Piotr Skarzynski et al. with third place in the competition. It is noteworthy that it was the only awarded study which was not from the United States.