Gift of Hearing Aids for Tornado Victim

December 24, 2013
OU College of Allied Health & Starkey Hearing Foundation team up to provide aids
A Moore tornado survivor received the gift of hearing for the holidays this year, thanks to the efforts of audiologists at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and the Starkey Foundation. For many, having the ability to hear is not something given much daily thought. For Moore resident Bunny White, however, that precious channel to human connection and communication was significantly altered after an EF5 tornado ripped through her community, badly damaging her home in May.

OU Researcher Awarded $1.9 Million Grant to Study Workplace Hazard

OU Researcher Awarded $1.9 Million Grant to Study Workplace Hazard

dr gallucciOklahoma City - A researcher at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center has been awarded a four-year, $1.9 million grant to study a topic that impacts many workers on the job – skin irritations that arise due to contact with a variety of chemicals.
As we all know, the workplace can be a place with hazards--not just because of falls oraccidents, but also because of contact with industrial chemicals. Those chemicals can produce an acute inflammatory response in the skin called contact dermatitis.
"It’s very common and there’s very little research that’s been done to look at this,” said lead researcher Randy Gallucci, Ph.D., an associate professor in the OU College of Pharmacy. “Contact dermatitis is the second most common reason for lost work, reduced productivity on the job and time away from work. It’s that prevalent.”

Contact dermatitis is one of the top 10 reasons for patient visits to their primary care physicians and 8 in 10 of those cases is caused by an irritant as opposed to an allergic reaction.
“Irritant contact dermatitis is a skin reaction that looks a bit like a burn. The skin may appear dry, red and rough. Cuts or cracks may also form on the hands,” said Dr. Pamela Allen, a dermatologist with OU Physicians. “It’s triggered by contact with acids, alkaline substances like soaps or detergents, fabric softeners, solvents or other chemicals.”

There are hundreds of substances alleged to cause contact dermatitis. Exposure to these substances can produce contact dermatitis.
A few of the more commonly used substances are the detergent SLS (found in everything from bathroom cleaners to shampoos) and the disinfectant benzalkonium chloride used in hand wipes.
Allen said irritant dermatitis usually clears up without complications in 2 or 3 weeks if the offending agent is avoided. However, it may return if the substance or material that caused it cannot be found or avoided.
With the grant from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Gallucci and his team will study why susceptibility to this type of dermatitis varies among workers.

"One of our main aims is to try to figure out what the difference is. For example, why some people have problems with detergents and other people do not," he said.
Gallucci and his team of researchers will focus on the role played by Interleukin 6, an immune protein produced by most cells in the body, which is associated with skin healing and protection. Gallucci calls IL-6 “an immune messenger."

“When a white blood cell, for example, detects bacteria or damage to the skin, it makes IL-6 to summon help,” he said.
The effects of Interleukin 6 can be unpredictable depending on where it is produced in the body. In the skin, though, it appears to have an anti-inflammatory function.   
The long-term goal of the OU team’s research is two-fold.

"The first goal would be to help identify workers who might be susceptible to these contact irritants so they can take proper or specialized precautions,” Gallucci said. “In addition, we would hope to be able to use what we know about IL-6 to develop a treatment like a lotion or something similar that would help increase the skins’ defense against these irritants."

None of this will happen overnight, however, Gallucci emphasized. As with most pharmaceuticals, he estimates the development of a novel protective lotion based upon the team’s research might take up to a decade to move from the laboratory through the Food and Drug Administration approval process and finally to market.

A Nose for Brain Surgery


Dr. Michael SughrueOklahoma City businesswoman Bonnie Naifeh can finally say she is optimistic about her future after a bout with a tumor that grew in the middle of her head.
A frustrating battle against a persistent tumor in her pituitary gland now appears to be over thanks to a team of physicians at OU Medical Center who removed it through her nose by using a procedure that is less invasive than traditional approaches.
The procedure—called endoscopic pituitary surgery—uses an endoscope, or a thin tube that has a built-in microscope, light and camera to reach the tumor through the nose.
Naifeh’s surgery was performed in July. It was the third time she’d undergone attempts to remove the tumor, which kept growing back. The side effects got worse, so she came to OU Medical Center.

“I was terrified. I was thinking this is the third time and I’m out, probably...I’m going to die.”
Fortunately, most pituitary gland tumors are not cancerous, but left untreated, a person could lose their eyesight. Studies show that some tumors can cause more disease, even death.
Naifeh’s endoscopic pituitary surgery was part of a team approach at OU Medical Center, including ear, nose and throat surgeons, neurosurgeons and an endocrinologist.

The ear, nose and throat surgeon first paved the way to the tumor.  By watching images from the endoscope on a video monitor, the surgeon then passed the scope through the bony back wall of the sinus.  The neurosurgeon stepped in after the scope reached the pituitary area and removed the tumor in tiny pieces.

Because the pituitary gland is responsible for regulating most of a body’s hormones, an endocrinologist who specializes in glands and hormones was also involved throughout the process. The endonasal endoscopic technique provides a better view than other methods which limit a surgeon’s vision and flexibility. Surgeons at OU Medical Center use a single nostril technique, which is less invasive than the commonly-used two nostril approach.

“The endoscope allows me to look around the corners of the pituitary area.  In the past, surgeons could only see down a very narrow, straight path—perhaps not seeing the entire tumor.  The endoscope allows for greater accessibility,” said Dr. Michael Sughrue, the OU Medical Center neurosurgeon who performed Naifeh’s procedure.

Ear, nose and throat surgeon, Dr. Jose Sanclement said he and Sughrue used a unique, single-nostril approach during Naifeh’s surgery. The physicians believe it makes the procedure even less invasive than other endoscopic tumor removals.  

“It is a more stealth or less invasive, approach. There’s better healing, it’s more anatomical and functional—leaving their anatomy essentially unchanged,” Sanclement said.
Before coming to OU Medical Center, Naifeh experienced many complications after a different type of surgery attempted to remove the tumor—which eventually grew back.

“With my second surgery, it took so long for me to come back.  After this surgery, my sense of smell is working, my sense of taste is working and I feel so blessed. I feel nothing has been altered with this surgery,” Naifeh said.
Post-surgery, endocrinologist, Dr. Jonea Lim manages Naifeh’s pituitary hormone production as a key component in the multidisciplinary approach.

“I assess baseline pituitary hormone production before and after surgery and manage them accordingly,” Lim said.
Naifeh looks forward to a tumor-free future.

“My thoughts overall are that I am so grateful, because if I had not gone to that team, it might not have been done as thoroughly.  I’ve had minimal down-time. It’s been very positive,” Naifeh said.   
For more information about endonasal endoscopic surgery (EEA) and other unique types of surgeries, please visit

OU Medicine is the collective brand for OU Medical Center, OU Physicians and the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. Headquartered at the Oklahoma Health Center campus near downtown Oklahoma City, OU Medicine is the state’s largest academic medical complex. Among other things, it provides health care, conducts medical research and educates the physicians of tomorrow. 

OU Medical Center is home to the state’s only level one trauma center and The Children’s Hospital, Oklahoma’s most comprehensive pediatric facility. Members of OU Physicians, the state’s largest physicians group, provide care at the hospital facilities and at OU Physicians clinics in Oklahoma City and across the state. The practice includes almost every adult and child specialty, and some of its physicians have pioneered treatments or procedures that are world-firsts.

SoundBite Hearing Device

OU Medicine Offers New Hearing System for
Patients with Single-Sided Deafness.
Non-invasive device enables hearing through novel bone conduction technology

Using your teeth to hear? It sounds a little crazy, but new technology now available at OU Medicine is helping patients with single-sided deafness hear again.

It’s called the SoundBite™ Hearing System. It is the world’s first removable, non-surgical hearing solution that uses the well-established principle of bone conduction along with advanced wireless and sound-processing technology to transmit sound via the teeth to the inner ear.

“Bone conduction has long been recognized as one of the most effective methods of bringing sound to patients with hearing loss in one ear. With the SoundBite System, we can custom-fit patients with a non-invasive, high-tech solution without surgery, without need for a permanent implant,” said Dr. Betty Tsai, board-certified otolaryngologist with OU Physicians. “It’s not a hearing aid. A hearing aid simply amplifies sound. SoundBite is a prosthetic hearing system. It replaces the function of the damaged hearing nerve.”

Sound waves travel through air to our inner ears, but they can also arrive via bone. For instance, familiar sounds like scratching your scalp, crunching potato chips or chattering your teeth are transmitted to the inner ear through bone conduction. SoundBite takes advantage of a person’s natural teeth structures as the bone conductor to transfer sound vibrations to the cochlea of the inner ear thereby restoring hearing to the impaired ear.

An estimated 50,000 people in the United States experience unilateral hearing loss each year, typically caused by viral infections, Menieres disease, head or ear trauma or through surgical intervention to remove acoustic neuruomas or other brain tumors.

Dustin Brown, 27, of Meeker underwent surgery to remove a tumor, leaving him deaf in one ear. Now, thanks to SoundBite, his hearing has been restored.

“That’s awesome,” Brown exclaimed shortly after being fitted with SoundBite as the technician whispered in his previously impaired ear.

Unlike bone-anchored hearing aids that use a surgical implant on the skull, the SoundBite system consists of two user-friendly components. The first is an easy-to-insert, easy-to-remove, In-The-Mouth hearing device that’s custom made to fit around the upper left or right back molar teeth. The other component is a small, Behind-The-Ear microphone unit that tucks behind and inside the impaired ear. Both components have rechargeable batteries and the system comes with its own charger.

SoundBite is barely visible when worn. It requires no dental work or modifications to the teeth.

“SoundBite represents a great new option for patients with single-sided deafness,” said Angela Gathers, CCC-A,OU Physicians audiologist. “The entire process takes only a few weeks – from start to finish.”

SoundBite is FDA-approved for the treatment of single-sided deafness. It is appropriate for patients 18 years or older who suffer from moderately severe, severe or profound sensorineural hearing loss in one ear and have normal hearing in the other ear. It is intended for patients with sound oral health and tooth structures.

OU Researcher Awarded $1.9 Million Grant to Study Workplace Hazard

December 20, 2013

Oklahoma City - A researcher at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center has been awarded a four-year, $1.9 million grant to study a topic that impacts many workers on the job – skin irritations that arise due to contact with a variety of chemicals.

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