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Device Developed to Help Treat Ear Infections
July 1, 2008

One of the most common surgeries performed on pediatric patients could soon become faster and safer thanks to a new surgical tool developed by a team of University of Virginia engineers.

Led by Shayn Peirce-Cottler, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at U.Va.’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Dr. Bradley Kesser, an ENT surgeon at the U.Va. Health System, U.Va. undergraduate researchers developed the novel device that combines three of the tools used in the surgical implantation of ear ventilation tubes.

The new tool is currently in clinical trials and has shown promising results.

Each year about 2.2 million young patients need these tubes implanted for the treatment of chronic otitis media (ear infections) with effusion, a common problem associated with earaches. ENT surgeons insert the tubes to relieve pressure and fluid build-up.

Similar in appearance to the current suction tool used to treat chronic ear infections, the new stainless steel device consists of a hollow rod with a collar that holds the tube in place, allowing the surgeon to apply force to insert the tube with one motion.

The project started as an undergraduate Engineering School capstone biomedical design assignment in 2004 led by Prof. Peirce-Cottler and Dr. Kesser. Since its inception, the device has been enhanced by three different capstone teams.

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