Patients' Feedback





Cholesteatoma

Adults

" I was a performer in the music industry when I was diagnosed with my cholesteatoma. I had signed a record deal a few months before this diagnosis, and the first doctor I saw told me I would have to have my middle ear removed, and have it slowly rebuilt across a series of surgeries. Needless to say, I wouldn’t have been able to continue with my music career if I had gone down this route.

Given my situation, the original surgeon recommended Mr Hamilton to me [the first time in his career that he’d ever referred a patient to another surgeon] and I arranged the earliest possible appointment I could. From the moment I met Mr Hamilton, he filled me with optimism about a scenario that had at first seemed hopeless, and I knew this was the best course of treatment of me.

The information I received from Mr Hamilton before the surgery, the surgery itself, and the after care has all been amazing and I have felt confident and well informed through-out the process.

I have just had my 3 year check up, and as it stands today, I am cholesteatoma free! I am in no doubt that I wouldn’t have the quality of life I have now if I had never been referred to Mr Hamilton. Also, as a result of the surgery, I was able to continue with my recording contract and went on to enjoy the most successful two years of my career to date. Words cannot thank him enough! "

Paul Charlie Brown (London)



 

" Having my middle ears destroyed by tuberculosis as a one year old in 1952, I have suffered very poor hearing and persistent ear infections since. This despite several efforts over time to establish new ear drum to seal the ears.

My inner ears functioned well, with bone conduction tests showing almost normal capability and I dreamed of the time skill and technology could fix the mechanical parts of my ears.

Up until I became aware of Mr Hamilton, no surgeon was prepared to undertake the task as they felt the damage was such that it was not possible. Mr Hamilton under took the task, rebuilding my middle ear cavities and inserting prosthetic hearing bones. Now I have significantly improved hearing and sealed ears. I have had no infections since the work was done and it has been a life changing experience for me.

I will always remain indebted to John Hamilton for his great skill in carrying out the work – but also for the way in which he did it. He always kept me informed of the risks and probabilities associated with each stage of the work.

I believe his work is at the leading edge of what can be done and I would have no hesitation recommending him to anyone, including my own children, if they needed his help. "

Mr R Sloan (Berkshire)



 

" Like many children, I'd had my fair share of ear infections, but as an otherwise fit-and-healthy 24 year old with no outward sign of ear trouble aside from the ear infection that had finally brought me back to an ENT consultant after almost a decade, it came as a shock to me in 2012 to learn that I had a cholesteatoma in my left ear that was going to need surgical attention.

Having consulted with a couple of the top ENT surgeons in London, the outlook looked fairly grim:

I was told that the CT scan showed that the cholesteatoma was surrounding my hearing bones and had already eroded them quite significantly; they would almost certainly need to be removed and would be reconstructed with prosthetics in a second surgery a year later; after the reconstruction process, I would have significantly reduced hearing.

Depending on the surgical procedure, even showering and swimming were possibly going to be ruled out -- I may have never been able to get water in my ear again. Tinnitus and taste disruption were also likely.

It finally began to dawn on me that at 24 years of age, I was going to have to have this surgery that could really quite negatively impact my quality of life in order to remove the disease... But that was all before I happened to come across Mr Hamilton's website and knew it would be worth seeking his opinion. The moment I left my first consultation my family and I knew without a shadow of doubt that Mr Hamilton was the right surgeon for me. Instead of using old-fashioned steel instruments which would never be able to save my hearing bones, Mr Hamilton's unique and progressive approach would use a laser to vaporise the cholesteatoma, whilst leaving my hearing bones intact. My hearing would only be slightly impacted (if at all) and within a few months of surgery I would be able to shower and swim as normal.

In September 2012 I went in for surgery with Mr Hamilton at the Winfield Hospital. Using his pioneering approach, Mr Hamilton was able to remove all of the disease from the ear whilst leaving my hearing bones intact. The surgery is almost totally painless and after a comfortable overnight stay in hospital, I was able to head back to London the next day.

A few weeks after surgery, with the healing process now almost complete, it was time for my hearing test, which showed that remarkably my hearing (which had never been bad) had actually improved as a result of surgery. I was able to shower, swim and fly completely as normal -- even the scar behind my ear faded away over the next few months, and I was able to get on with my life and forget all about the cholesteatoma.

Now almost a year later, I've recently had my "second-look" procedure to be 100% sure that all the cholesteatoma had been completely removed. Fortunately it's all clear, which means that now I'm officially cholesteatoma-free! I've booked a holiday for later this year when I'll be able to swim to my heart's content! "

Jonathon (London)



 

" My husband celebrated his 80th birthday this year and had worn hearing aids for most of his adult life. He suffered numerous ear infections for which the doctor always prescribed ear drops until the time when he saw a different doctor and, it was suspected there might be something more sinister going on in one of his ears. Brian was referred to a consultant and a cholesteatoma was suspected - although 80 years of age, Brian is fit and healthy with no other medical condition of any sort, apart from hearing loss.

We researched the subject of cholesteatoma and read articles about Mr Hamilton, who appeared to have the necessary expertise and, off we went to see him – we could not have made a better choice!!!

Mr Hamilton performed very complicated surgery and, not only has the cholesteatoma been successfully removed, Brian's hearing has also been repaired so skilfully that he no longer needs to wear a hearing aid in this ear.

After all these years, it is just wonderful for him be able to hear properly without an aid and also to experience normal telephone conversations for the first time ever.

We have no doubt that the success of the operation is down to being in the care of a Highly Skilled Surgeon - so thank you so much!! "

Mr & Mrs B Waddell (Bristol)



 

" In 1974 I had an operation to remove cholesteatoma from my right ear. This left me with a large cavity and no hearing in my right ear. I was seen regularly at outpatients for cleaning of the cavity. My left ear was checked at the same time. In 2010, one of the specialist nurses noted an abnormality in my left ear, the only hearing ear and I was referred for a CT scan that confirmed cholesteatoma. I was referred to the care of Mr Hamilton.

Over the ext two and a half years, Mr Hamilton carried out four operations for me. On the right he did one to fill in the cavity and then one to restore the hearing bones. On the left, he eradicated the disease and preserved the hearing. Later he did a a check to ensure that all was healthy.

I am exceedingly grateful to Mr Hamilton for his expertise in giving me hearing in stereo, no less, and all he has done for me. Anyone who has Mr Hamilton as their consultant should thank their lucky stars. "

T Brookes (Tewkesbury)



 

Children

" When we first realised Millie had an extensive cholesteatoma we felt very guilty at having missed it particularly since we had both done ENT house jobs and are now both consultants.

I was filled with the dread of her having to put up with a lifetime of having an infected mastoid cavity (we were offered mastoid clearance here), as we both remember only to well the hours we spent as housemen hoovering out the middle ears of these poor souls. I knew even back then that most patients eventually give up on the pleasures of swimming and hairwashing with abandon as the consequences are so bothersome.

Before she got her diagnosis, given what I see in pediatrics, I would have said that not being able to swim or wash your own hair in the bath was a minor inconvenience, but at 15 in a family that holidays often, with summer swimming, canoeing and sailing a big part of what we do, it dawned on me quite how debilitating having a mastoid cavity would be... and it would be for life.

What would she do as she watches her brothers go off to the water park or at the beach with her university friends and who would teach her own children to swim when she had them?

So we set off on a journey which started by doing a lot of research. We even considered LA and Hong Kong but when we asked people in the know (and we asked a lot of people) – all roads led to you. We feel extremely lucky that our contacts and knowledge allowed us to find you. It is one of the most important decisions we have made for any of our children so far – its import far outweighing in our minds the discussions and decisions about their education.

And the proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say.

After 2 years of washing her hair over the sink ( not always easy in an incalcitrant teenager) and having to keep the ear scrupulously dry, not swimming and some missed holidays due to not being able to fly we have a result we could only ever have dreamed of. Her disease was extensive and in others hands recurrence would have been in the region of 30% but at her first re-op, there was no disease.

For Millie that was wonderful news but to then come back to follow up and discover that the reconstruction done at the time of second surgery has restored her hearing is nothing short of miraculous. I said "normal hearing" over and over again all the way back to Manchester. I can't say the journey and having surgery so far from home was always easy but knowing what I know now we would have travelled to Australia (and back) to have you work your miracles.

As a paediatrician whose patients would probably be offered a straight mastoid cavity with all the lifetime complications that brings, for me the experience is just tinged with a bit of sadness that children from around the country are not all referred to you, especially since all the ENT consultants we asked (at least 5 from as many centres – both paediatric and adult professors) all recommended you.

You shouldn't have to be doctors to access the best care.

Alan and I would like to send a very heartfelt thanks to you for the extraordinary work you have done for our daughter. Millie was overjoyed to be back in control of her own hair washing. Being normal and keeping up with your brothers is truly a gift and that you have given her that back freedom.

A million thank you's - the country deserves to hear more about you. "

Dr Melissa Hubbard MRCP
Mr Alan Hubbard FRCOphth (Cheshire)



 

" The initial prognosis and treatment suggested by our local specialist for our 10 year old daughter's cholesteatoma would have resulted in permanent hearing loss and an end to the water sports she loved. Fortunately, we were introduced to Mr Hamilton. The surgery he performed, involving specialist laser techniques, has had fantastic results. She now has a healthy ear, her hearing has been fully restored and she is happily back in the water. After such gloomy initial prospects we have had a very positive and happy ending. "

Mr & Mrs G Rees (Cardiff)



 

" My 13 year old son Arthur was diagnosed with cholesteatoma in 2013. He had no obvious symptoms and I think we may still not be any the wiser if it wasn't for the fact that Arthur loves watersports and had spent most of the summer in the sea which had caused a nasty ear infection. The cholesteatoma was not picked up by our GP but he had noticed a pearly white mass behind the ear drum (alarm bells!!!). We were worried enough by the wait of 3 months to see an ENT surgeon on the NHS that we decided to use BUPA and speed up the process. After a 15 min appointment with the surgeon we had a diagnosis of cholesteatoma and an urgent request for an MRI scan; all very alarming when you have never heard of this dratted disease before. The surgeon in question said that he operated on approx 2 cases a year.

The MRI scan showed an extensive infection in his right ear filling the mastoid cavity and the entire ear space. There is only one treatment for cholesteatoma and it is essential because the options are bleak without surgery. At present the majority (to my understanding) of surgery on offer is the extraction of the cholesteatoma by the use of surgical instruments. If the infection is attached to the ossicles this also involves removal of the ossicles and results in a substantial loss of hearing on that side.

We were obviously shocked and whilst we had a 6 week wait for the scheduled surgery, I researched everything I could on the disease to see what I could find out and if we were doing the right thing. Our worry was that (apart from being alarmist (surgeons don't like you to over think this condition because it is treatable)) time wasn't on our side and this is a life threatening disease. Arthur was only 13 and substantial loss of hearing would really effect him now and in his future choices in life. He is dyslexic and the hearing problem had really affected his academic success to date. I spoke to everyone I met and a chance encounter with a friend led me to contact the recently retired Head Consultant of ENT, Great Ormond Street Hospital, who recommened Mr Hamilton. This was backed up with telelphone conversations with past patients of Mr Hamilton I was lucky enough to speak to.

Mr Hamilton started by reassuring us that by the time Arthur left his care he would most likely have good social hearing. We were concerned that water sports maybe ruled out of his future life and again we were reassured that this would not be the case. Mr. Hamilton operates on 3 to 4 cholesteatoma cases a week, which I think speaks for itself. He uses lasers, which are accurate and extremely effective in such a confined area as the ear. Initially the use of the lasers ensured the saving of Arthur's ossicles but, unfortunately, the cholesteatoma had reappeared on the second operation which meant their removal was essential. This is where the greatest difference in the two approaches to the condition reveal themselves. Mr. Hamilton replaced Arthur's ossicles with a titanium implant, the success of which is beyond anything we could have imagined in our wildest dreams. His most recent hearing test has revealed near perfect hearing on his affected side; this would never have happened had we not put our faith in Mr.Hamilton. His grades have improved at school and we have the greatest gift of all, which is our precious boy alive well and with an exciting future ahead of him, rich with all possibilities.

We can not recommend Mr. Hamilton and his team more highly. We are so grateful that chance allowed us to find him and would be happy to talk to anyone who finds themselves in the same position.

" As far as I am aware Mr.Hamilton is the leading person in the UK who offers this alternative method of treating cholesteatoma and its resulting complications. He really needs no recommendations, however, as his data and statistics speak for themselves. Apart from all of that, he is an extremely nice man who gave us so much positive, sensible and confident advice. He was fantastic with my son and I know Arthur felt reassured and safe in his care.

Mrs A Brooke (Co. Fermanagh)



 

Otosclerosis

" Thank you so much for using your wonderful skills to restore Laura' s hearing. The difference this has made to her life is amazing for all of us and she has regained so much confidence. It was always a pleasure to do the pre- and post- stapedectomy hearing tests for your patients, as the results were so outstanding. To have this for my own daughter is priceless. "

Mrs J Davies , Audiologist (Gloucester)



 

" I was first referred to Mr Hamilton's ENT clinic at Cheltenham by my GP after I found I was having hearing problems in July 2010. After the hearing tests, Mr Hamilton recommended that I have a stapedectomy on my left ear. Mr Hamilton clearly explained what the operation would entail. This would be followed by an overnight stay in hospital to make sure that the ear had stabilised.

The operation took place in December 2010, I found the operating team kept me informed at every stage, which helped to decrease my anxiety. I had no ear pain after the operation and even before the gauze ear plug was taken out I found that the hearing in my left ear had improved.

I was asked to attend the ENT clinic two weeks after the operation, where I saw Mr Hamilton. He examined my ear, took out the cotton wool plug and gave me recommendations about keeping the ear dry to prevent bacterial infections. Once the cotton wool plug was taken out I noticed a big improvement in my hearing. Over the next few weeks the hearing in my left ear became more distinct as the ear drum stabilised. I found that I could now hear conversations on the phone easily, which I found particularly useful as I use the phone often during the day (listening to a phone with a hearing aid is difficult and the conversation is often muffled if you do not have the phone correctly positioned). I could also hear my colleagues at work more easily, particularly in the open plan office. With a hearing aid, it is very difficult to pick out a particular conversation in this situation due to all the back ground noises, this meant that I was often missing out on important information.

After 6 weeks, I went back to the ENT clinic to Mr Hamilton's surgery and had a hearing test to confirm that my hearing had improved markedly. It is always difficult to quantify an improvement in hearing but I know that the volume of the TV at home has been reduced by half which has definitely made a difference to me and my family members, we can actually have a decent conversation without having to repeat parts of the conversation over and over again. When wearing hearing aids, I found that my ears waxed up easily, I would then be more prone to ear infections and would often have to go for days without hearing aids at all which could be quite dangerous, particularly when driving.

After a year, I went back to the clinic to confirm that the left ear was now back to normal and Mr Hamilton and I decided to undertake the same procedure on my right ear. I had this operation in February 2013 and if anything the hearing in my right ear is now better than the hearing in the left ear, I do not wear hearing aids at all and my quality of life has improved dramatically. I went for an appointment to my hearing aid supplier shortly after the second operation and she could not believe the difference in my hearing, she was amazed by the improvement.

Thank you for doing these operations, the improvement in my hearing is phenomenal and it has made a real difference to the quality of my life, the family is very relieved now that I am back in the' land of the hearing'!

I have no hesitation in recommending Mr Hamilton to anyone who may be considering this type of operation to improve their hearing. "

Mr B Coulson (Huntingdon)