Dr. Chad Ruffin is an ear, nose, and throat doctor who specializes in ear and cochlear implant surgery at his practice in Seattle, Washington. In addition to treating patients in the clinic, he also researches and develops technology for hearing loss.
He is the first person born with severe hearing loss to become a surgeon using cochlear implants. He combines science and lived experience to teach his patients how to live to the fullest with hearing loss.
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Cochlear implants (CIs) are surgically implanted devices that bypass the damaged structures of the inner ear to create a sense of sound. They provide a sense of hearing for those with severe and profound hearing losses. An outside processor converts sounds to a digital signal and wirelessly sends it to the internal computer. The electrode directly stimulates the hearing nerve with electricity to create a sensation of sound.
Nearly all patients perform better with their implant than they do with hearing aids. Most implantees can talk on the phone. Some implantees can hear well without additional hearing assistive technology or accommodations. Cochlear implants do not cure hearing loss.
Successful users like Dr. Ruffin have learned how to navigate the hearing world despite these obstacles. He is passionate to help his patients achieve their own goals.
Dr. Chad Ruffin has had cochlear implants for 20 years. He is one of the first people born deaf to become a surgeon while using cochlear implants. Breaking this glass ceiling was challenging, and some obstacles are not obvious. Dr. Ruffin offers a pathway to ensure you not only have a successful cochlear implant surgery, but also the services and resources to help you maximize success after a cochlear implant.
His expertise is unlike any cochlear implant surgeon worldwide. He performs hearing preservation and revision surgery in adults and children. Dr. Ruffin is also a scientist and technology innovator in the field of hearing loss. He has designed new speech processing strategies for cochlear implants and also examined how people cognitively process speech and music with cochlear implants. Read more about his credentials and journey with hearing loss.
Cholesteatoma is an abnormal growth of skin within the middle ear (see figure). It begins in the middle ear and may spread to the mastoid bone behind the ear. It is also known as a “skin cyst” in the eardrum and middle ear.
How is cholesteatoma treated?
A very small cholesteatoma that is limited to the eardrum may be observed. However, these are very rare. Most cholesteatomas are in unsafe locations. Unfortunately, there is no known treatment to remove cholesteatoma without surgery. The risks to the hearing, balance, and facial nerve structures and the brain from non-surgical approaches far outweigh the risks of removing cholesteatoma.
Otosclerosis is a condition where sound is blocked from reaching the inner ear. The last middle ear bone, the stapes or “stirrup,” becomes fixed. Because it is fixed, sound energy from the vibrating eardrum cannot be transferred to the inner ear. This results in a conductive hearing loss which can be treated with hearing aids or surgery.
Sinusitis occurs when the sinuses become inflamed or infected. Inflammation causes mucus membranes to become swollen and to make extra mucus. The swollen lining can block sinus mucus drainage. When this occurs, the sinus becomes infected.
What is chronic sinusitis?
Chronic rhinosinusitis lasts at least 12 weeks, despite treatment and causes at least two of these symptoms:
Difficulty breathing through the nose
Runny nose or mucus that drips down the back of the throat
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) is hearing loss that damages the inner ear (e.g. “sensorineural”). SSHL most frequently happens in one ear. Patients often wake up with the sound of an ear that sounds “blocked,” “congested,” or “clogged” ear.
They may also have other symptoms such as ringing in the ears or tinnitus. About half of patients may experience spinning dizziness called vertigo.
Together, these symptoms indicate that the inner ear that provides sensations for hearing and balance are being damaged.
SSHL is an emergency of the ear. Early treatment within 2 weeks can recover hearing in 80% of cases.
Chronic sinusitis, nasal breathing issues, and allergies are all approached similarly. Each of these conditions is often associated with inflamed mucous membranes inside the nose.
So treatment is geared towards decreasing nasal inflammation so that you can breathe better, have less postnasal and runny nose, a better sense of smell, fewer infections and sinus attacks, and less of a run-down feeling.
Dr. Ruffin was the first person in over 10 years to actually take the time to really listen to me. He took the time to figure out what’s actually going on without chalking it up to something simple and sending me on my way.
I really appreciated Chad's honesty with options, having surgery being a last result and most of all explaining everything in layman's terms. I couldn't be happier with my experience and really appreciate him getting to the bottom of my ear issue and making it feel better than it ever has!
Dr. Ruffin was incredibly knowledgeable, thorough and compassionate. He took the time to fully understand the issues and was able to provide immediate relief. Nothing short of a miracle here. Furthermore, the entire team was very kind and professional. One of the best medical experiences I have had!