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First patient gets artificial larynx

First patient gets artificial larynx October 08, 2013

A MAN has been able to breathe normally after an artificial titanium larynx was transplanted into his throat in Strasbourg-Hautepierre hospital.

Professor Christian Debry carried out the operation in June 2012 on a 65-year-old patient, who had had a tracheotomy when his larynx was removed due to cancer.

He had only been able to breathe through a hole in his throat but since the larynx was transplanted he can breathe normally through his mouth.

Maurice Bérenger, chief executive of Strasbourg manufacturer ProTip, said the artificial larynx allowed the man to return to an “almost normal” life, although he was still not able to speak properly. Mr Bérenger said that patients often had social problems after a tracheotomy as they could not breathe properly.

He added: “Laryngectomy is a procedure which has not changed in 140 years. This surgical first paves the way for a procedure which gives new hope to laryngeal cancer patients. Ultimately, it will help patients regain their ability to breathe, speak and eat normally.”

The operation was carried out in two stages, starting in June 2012, the company said in a press release. “The first phase of surgery saw the surgical team remove the patient's larynx and implant the first component of the artificial larynx, a tracheal ring made of titanium.

“The main purpose of the tracheal ring that we fitted was to recreate the connection normally formed by the larynx and acting as a kind of funnel between the two,” Prof Debry said. “The material used for the ring means that it can be incorporated into the surrounding tissues, forming an integral part of the throat as a result.”

“The second stage was completed a few months later, in November 2012. Under general anaesthetic, a removable, valve-based device was inserted into the tracheal ring through the patient’s mouth. The artificial larynx device partially replicates the natural functions of the larynx and the patient is again able to breathe through the upper respiratory tract.

Prof Debry said the operation marked the culmination of more than 20 years of research which began as part of his doctoral thesis while he was still a student.

Each year up to 2,000 patients have their trachea removed, most commonly because of cancer. - See original

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