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Durham, NC (July 9, 2008) MED-EL Corporation announced today new data regarding FineHearingTM technology, available only with the MAESTRO Cochlear Implant System. In addition to hearing in "high definition" with FineHearing, MED-EL's MAESTRO system offers the smallest internal implant and the thinnest, lightest externally-worn speech processor available. The MAESTRO CI system presents surgeons with an option of two internal cochlear implants (SONATATI100 or PULSARCI100) and patients with an option of two speech processors (OPUS 1 or OPUS 2), providing the best possible solution for each individual case. The OPUS Speech Processors offer two new sound coding strategies that make hearing the fine details of sound a reality for people who are profoundly deaf.

"The MAESTRO has created a tremendous capacity for patients to hear, they can filter out certain noises, and they can exist in environments that used to be not really well tolerated by people with cochlear implants. The new system has enabled recipients to hear much better than in the past," said Harold C. Pillsbury, MD, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

A clinical investigation which evaluated MED-EL's FineHearing technology demonstrated remarkable improvements in music enjoyment and statistically significant improvements in hearing in noisy environments - two areas of hearing that have been challenging for cochlear implant users.1 A questionnaire of patients who participated in the clinical trial showed that 65% reported improved enjoyment of familiar music, while 59% reported improved enjoyment of music that is unfamiliar. Remarkably, 91% of the subjects reported that, in general, music sounds pleasant with their cochlear implant and 82% reported listening to music every week, if not every day. Also, compared to their current processor, more than half reported improvement in speech understanding while listening in group situations and 60% understood both male and female voices better in everyday noisy environments.1

FineHearing Defines the Finer Details of Sound

Like a telephone, a cochlear implant works by converting sound into complex electrical signals. In an implant, the method used to make this conversion is called a sound coding strategy. During the past two decades, cochlear implant sound coding strategies have only been able to represent one part of a sound, the part known as the "envelope." The other part, called the "fine structure," could not previously be enhanced, due to limitations in technology. Fine structure is comprised of timing cues that provide fine details regarding subtle variations in the pitch of a sound.

With the introduction of FineHearing, MED-EL overcomes the limitations of envelope-based "traditional" coding strategies. MED-EL's new Fine Structure Processing (FSP2) strategy better represents both components of a sound: the envelope and the fine structure. By including the fine structure, the normal hearing process can be represented with greater accuracy than with the envelope alone. In other words, FineHearing can be described as "Hearing in High Definition." The clinical investigation with FineHearing users show clear benefits for speech understanding in background noise. The research also showed that listeners are able to detect smaller differences in pitch, and perceive a wider range of tones. This ability can provide many advantages, including appreciating the richness and complexity of music.1

The Thinnest and Lightest System Means Maximum Comfort in a Minimum Space

MED-EL's latest speech processor, the OPUS 2, is a milestone achievement in engineering, offering unparalleled comfort, battery life, hands-free capability, and remote access to controls. It is the thinnest and lightest processor available today, with a new ergonomic design for maximum comfort and cosmetic appeal. It is the only system with a FineTuner remote control, allowing easy adjustment of settings, without removing the processor from the ear and without interrupting hearing. The processor also includes a standard input jack for connection to FM systems, assistive listening devices even iPod and Bluetooth. Additionally, the SONATATI100 is the smallest titanium cochlear implant on the market, designed to accommodate minimally invasive surgical techniques in less time.

The MAESTRO Cochlear Implant System's state-of-the-art electronics platform also incorporates technology that is well ahead of its time, with the capacity for features not yet available to the cochlear implant users of today. Simple upgrades in external components or computer software can implement these features in the future, allowing recipients to take advantage of MED-EL's intelligent, forward-thinking engineering today and for many years to come.

"The technology used with MAESTRO CI system is a major advancement in that the implant, the part of the system that requires surgery, has capabilities that we have not tapped into yet. We have the ability to update the software, change the coding strategy, and even change electronics in the speech processor such that the implant itself will be able to deliver more information without requiring another surgery," said Dick Collette, President and CEO, MED-EL North America.


Contact: Rebecca Novak Tibbitt
MED-EL Corporation

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