Surgeon performs “live” temporal bone dissection via satellite link from Markham Stouffville Hospital


For three hours residents, clinical fellows and qualified surgeons from North America and around the world observed intensely as Dr. Jerry Halik, Otolaryngologist, performed advanced reconstructive ear surgery in the operating room at Markham Stouffville Hospital.

While the advanced surgical technique is not unique, what is unique is that the surgery was televised “live” via a satellite link from Markham Stouffville Hospital to the Surgical Skills Centre at the University of Toronto. The live surgery was a key feature of the two-day course on the practice of otologic and neurologic surgery. The course ran from June 18-24, 2004, and was offered by the University of Toronto, in partnership with Markham Stouffville Hospital and the University Health Network.

Limited to 20 participants, the course included a series of lectures that gave participants an understanding of the indications, contraindications, pre and post-operative care for patients undergoing ear surgery. Each participant was given the opportunity for “hands-on” practice of basic and advanced surgical dissections, under the close supervision of experienced University of Toronto and internationally renowned experts in the field.

Stapedectomy surgery for otosclerosis, as demonstrated by Dr. Halik, is currently performed approximately 350 times per year in Ontario. Dr. Halik performs about half of the total number in Ontario at Markham Stouffville Hospital.

Such microscopic surgery requires high precision and steady hands with very little room for error. “We’re talking about infractions of millimeters. If the laser beam breaks through the nerve of hearing, there would be permanent hearing loss. But as challenging as the technique is, it gives me instant gratification when, at the end of the operation, the patient can hear my whisper,” says Dr. Halik.

As one of the course directors, Dr. Halik says the Temporal Bone Dissection course is offered approximately twice a year, and participants have come from as far away as Australia to participate in this course. In addition, Dr. Halik also lends his expertise by traveling to other parts of the world to pass on the latest surgical techniques in ear surgery. He recently traveled to New Zealand where physicians and medical students watched through an audiovisual feed as he performed the procedure on three patients.

“Hearing is a fundamental part of our speech. It is what communication is all about. This surgery opens up the world to patients again,” says Dr. Halik. He further adds that eventually new hearing aid technology may make this type of surgery obsolete. Until then, Dr. Halik will continue lecturing and performing these “live” surgical demonstrations.

For North American participants this course has been designated as an accredited educational activity towards the American Medical Association (AMA) Physicians Recognition Award. It has also been approved as an Accredited Group Learning Activity for the maintenance of Certification Program of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

Dr. Jerry Halik, M.D., FRCSC, joined the medical staff of Markham Stouffville Hospital prior to the hospital’s opening. He served as Chief of Surgery from 1988-1997.

Graduating from the University of Toronto School of Medicine in 1980, Dr. Halik interned at the Toronto East General Hospital in 1981 and completed his residency in Otolaryngology at the University of Toronto in 1985. He also completed his Fellowship from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Otolaryngology, Toronto in 1985. Dr. Halik then spent one year learning advanced otologic surgical techniques at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, Northern Ireland with the late expert surgeon Mr. Gordon Smyth.

Dr. Halik was appointed Assistant Professor, Department of Otolaryngology, University of Toronto in 1987. He also led the Bone Anchored Hearing Aid Program (fully funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care) at Markham Stouffville Hospital from 1996-1998. He has contributed to numerous publications and given many presentations across Canada and Europe.

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