New Implant Procedure, No Side Effects?

For those suffering from inner-ear damage, a new device called Esteem is out on the market. A surgeon implants the prosthetic inner-ear stimulator during a three-hour outpatient procedure, with the patient under general anesthesia. According to the article, it seems that the implant procedure and device have no side effects.

I was first reviewer for this HNR review. The Chicago Tribune ran the story.

Not a good example of reporting on new technologies: one glowing patient anecdote – same profiled in a news release.  No data provided.

Our Review Summary

No discussion of costs, or of outcomes data (benefits or harms).  Only one positive patient anecdote with no explanation of whether her result was representative of what’s been seen in any other patients.  There was no independent perspective provided.

Why This Matters

The story illustrates the difficulty in reporting on a new device and new implant procedure that has not become a mainstream practice. Much scientific data may not yet have been published. If this were the case, the story could have explicitly stated so and alerted the reader on the lack of data currently available. []

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