It’s a common ear complaint for which Tom Kuruvilla has crafted a unique solution, meaning most of his patients are home by the end of the day – and back surfing just a few weeks later!
The complaint is exostoses - bony lumps that grow within the ear canal caused by the bone being stimulated by cold water. Commonly known as ‘surfers’ ear’, New Zealand’s climate and our love of the outdoors means the condition is particularly common here.
Tom Kuruvilla has worked alongside Forté Health to transform treatment of this condition thanks to a new Mectron Piezosurgery flex unit – a piece of equipment that’s only available at Forté Hospital and which makes Tom’s unique Microchisel Exostectomy surgery possible.
“I perform this new surgery through the ear canal using an endoscope and custom-made chisels to chip away at the bone. Then the Piezosurgery unit enables me to smooth the bone down without damaging skin or cartilage.
“It’s transformed treatment for this condition completely - we’ve seen surfers get back in the water after just three weeks as this surgery is less invasive, so the patient’s recovery is much faster.”
Tom’s patients, who are commonly from the watersports community, are delighted with this new approach as it does not involve an incision behind the ear, which is how the traditional surgery is performed.
The breakthrough new surgery has also resulted in Tom’s advice to patients changing.
“As exostoses surgery can be a more significant operation patients used to be told to put up with their symptoms until their ears were significantly obstructed. Now that we can perform this surgery safely and efficiently down the ear canal, my advice to patients is to look at a surgical option as soon as symptoms require it to see if you’re a suitable candidate for this new surgical option.”
The Piezosurgery unit uses ultrasonic vibrations (40,000 vibrations per second) to ‘dissolve’ bone without damaging soft tissue. As well as being used for ear surgery it can also be used for a variety of nose surgeries at Forté Hospital.
As news of Tom’s new surgery spreads, he’s being contacted by people around the country who want to have their exostoses surgery at Forté Hospital.
“I had an idea about how we could treat this common condition in a way that’s safer, easier and less invasive for the patient. Forté listened to my idea and invested in it through their purchase of this Piezosurgery unit. It’s Forté’s constant focus on innovation, their willingness to invest in their values and their nimble operation that’s enabled this pioneering surgery to happen.”