30 operations at the 30th Window Approach Workshop

Window Approach Workshop (WAW) is a surgical and scientific workshop designed for otosurgeons from around the world, specialists, clinicians, and clinic managers specializing in the treatment of deafness with the use of auditory implants. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the first edition of this series of scientific meetings at the World Hearing Center in Kajetany with guests from all continents. This is one of the programs of the International Academy of Otosurgery. On this occasion, during the 30th edition of WAW, 30 demonstration operations will be carried out by prof. H. Skarzynski and members of the Oto-Rhino-Laryngosurgery Department in the World Hearing Center of the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing (IFPS) in Kajetany. The 30th anniversary edition of WAW will take place on November 27-28, 2017.

The first Workshop took place in April 2007 and it was the inauguration of a new series of meetings devoted to the latest achievements in the surgical treatment of hearing disorders. Even then, those meetings were focused on promoting new Polish solutions, proposed for the first time in the world. Professor Henryk Skarzynski has conducted then 6 demonstration operations – 3 implantations in patients with partial deafness and 3 implantations of Vibrant middle ear implant. Among participants were trainees from Austria, Belarus, Finland, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, Great Britain and Italy.

– We started modestly, in a small laboratory equipped only with exercise stations on preparations, but I remember perfectly the first group, a dozen or so doctors interested in our achievements – recalls prof. Henryk Skarzynski, originator and organizer of the workshops. – In Kajetany we have currently the best and the largest spaces in the world designed to practice surgical techniques. We managed to build an Education Center with a unique laboratory equipped with 30 posts for otosurgery and rhinosurgery, modern equipment for exercises on anatomical preparations and computer simulators. On the occasion of this unusual jubilee we’re going to conduct 30 demonstration operations – adds prof. Skarzynski.

The program of each edition of the workshop includes lectures prepared by IFPS specialists, demonstration operations transmitted from the operating theater to the conference room, with the presentation of each case and discussion, as well as laboratory exercises on fresh preparations. One of the most important points of the workshop’s scientific program is the use of implants in the treatment of partial deafness, in which hearing disorders affect only some (most frequently high) frequencies. In such cases, it is very important not to damage the structures of the inner ear when inserting the implant. In order to prevent such complications, prof. Skarżyński has developed a special surgical method in which access to the inner ear is obtained through one of the natural holes in the bones of the cochlear – a round window. After 15 years of the first surgery in the world of an adult patient performed by prof. Skarżyński, his method has become a recognizable brand in science and medicine. It is a ‘Polish school’ in contemporary world science in the field of otosurgery.

Strong  emphasis during WAW workshops is placed on practical training. In this regard, the center in Kajetany is highly valued by the incoming participants and is distinguished by the possibility of observing live demonstration operations performed by prof. Skarzynski and the team of the Oto-Rhino-Laryngosurgery Department. The only such comprehensive training program which allows to observe live operations was created in Kajetany. Procedures of this type remain a huge challenge for the operator and the entire operating room team. Every tiniest movement has to be carefully observed and evaluated. For this reason, other surgical teams are rather reluctant to engage in live demonstration operations. Many years of experience gained by the team of our Oto-Rhino-Laryngosurgery Department, helps them to address such demanding challenges. Daily they’re performing the most surgeries improving the hearing in the world.

– Pioneer, demonstration operations carried out by our team during the workshops present the possibilities and level of development of Polish science and medicine. – says prof. Henryk Skarżyński – Such demonstration operations are a huge effort, and yet they’re also a proof that they can be carried out not only in well-known American centers, but also here. It is the best way to strengthen new ideas in everyday clinical practice – adds prof. Skarżyński.

It is worth recalling, that WAW workshops are one of the most important international scientific conferences organised by the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing. Furthermore, they served many times as an opportunity to present the newest technology within the field of auditory implants. This was the case in 2009 – the 9th European Symposium on Pediatric Cochlear Implants was hosted, when during the WAW workshops  a new SRA electrode was presented and implanted for the first time in the world. The device was developed under the guidance of prof. Henryk Skarżyński. Currently, CI-412 and CI-512 models are the most sold implants in the world.

The 5th WAW workshop, which accompanied the 9th European Symposium on Pediatric Cochlear Implants, gathered a record number of participants – over 1,500 people from many countries around the world. Also during the 10th Congress of the European Federation of Audiological Societies (EFAS) organized by the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing in 2011, the WAW workshops were an important point in the agenda. In 2012, the pioneer, first in Poland surgery of the BONEBRIDGE auditory implant was held in the World Hearing Center in Kajetany.Performed during the WAW workshop by prof.Henryk Skarzynski, this operation began a new era in the treatment of congenital hearing disorders, caused mainly by the full or partial underdevelopment of the outer and middle ear. Additional indications may be post-inflammatory and post-traumatic damage.

The 28th edition of the WAW workshop was also unique. The participants of one day training had the opportunity to participate in the International BONEBRIDGE & SOUNDBRIDGE symposium held in Kajetany. The highlight on the agenda was the implantation of a new type of Vibrant Soundbridge middle ear implant with LP-Coupler. The operation was watched directly in Kajetany by over 250 contemporary otosurgeons from all continents.

This extremely popular WAW training series is addressed to otosurgeons and audiologists who want to broaden their knowledge and skills in the field of auditory implants. For 10 years, Kajetany has been visited by nearly 4,500 participants from 65 countries around the world, including such distant countries as Singapore, Indonesia, Kenya and Saudi Arabia. The 30th edition of the WAW workshop includes over 750 hours of lectures and exercises, as well as presentations of many guest speakers. Among the invited lecturers there were outstanding experts from around the world, including prof. Thomas Klenzner from the University of Düsseldorf and prof. Laszlo Rovo from the University of Szeged, prof. Janez Rebol from the University of Maribor in Slovenia, or prof. Klaus Böheim from the St. Polten University of Innsbruck. The Window Approach Workshop programs include also lectures by specialists from the Institute on the diagnosis and qualification of patients for implanting auditory implants, advanced surgical techniques and the latest technologies in the field of hearing prosthesis using implants.

The development of medical technologies in the field of audiology and otology allows physicians to help practically every patient with hearing impairments, which is why WAW workshops are so popular.