ProTip and Strasbourg University Hospitals have completed the first implantation of an artificial larynx in a human patient.
In June 2012, Professor Christian Debry and his team in the ENT Department at Strasbourg University Hospitals, France, carried out the first major surgical procedure on a 65-year-old male with laryngeal cancer. This 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 ring was positioned and sutured in line with the trachea, and closed by a temporary cap. Debry stated that the main purpose of the tracheal ring that the physicians fitted was to recreate the connection normally formed by the larynx and acting as funnel between the two. Using titanium 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 in fitting the artificial larynx was completed 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.
Following promising initial results achieved in the first patient, ProTip and the Strasbourg University Hospitals will continue to develop the technology and the surgical procedure before making the therapy more widely available. To this end, a Europe-wide clinical study is currently under way.