Message from John S. Oghalai, MD
Welcome to the USC Caruso Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery!
As one of the cornerstone departments within the Keck School of Medicine at USC, we are lucky to have the tremendous clinical, research, and educational opportunities that exist here. Our Department has a culture that fosters excellence in all areas of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. Our facilities are top-notch.
Ultimately, however, our success derives from the quality of the people here at USC. Faculty, staff, and trainees support each other so that we can all reach our maximum potential.
Using the creative energy fostered by the synergy of multi-disciplinary teams, we develop innovative approaches to help patients, advance science, and train leaders. Our Department is strong in every division and we are advancing medicine through research. Furthermore, we believe that helping people is central to our mission and we dedicate our careers to this endeavor. We take pride in being are a friendly, caring group that enjoys going to work and serving our community every day.
We thrive in the diverse environment of Keck Medicine of USC, and we use it to develop paradigms that will end up being used around the country and the world. Whatever is going to happen, happens first in L.A. What an incredible place to work!
– John S. Oghalai, MD
John S. Oghalai, MD, is an internationally recognized otolaryngologist with expertise in ear and skull base surgery, who recently moved here from Stanford to lead the USC Caruso Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. His practice focuses on the management of skull base tumors such as vestibular schwannoma (acoustic neuroma) and meningioma. He works closely with neurosurgery, radiation oncology, and neuroradiology as a part of the USC skull base team. He also treats patients with chronic ear disease and hearing loss. This includes both adult and pediatric cochlear implantation. He also directs an NIH-funded research laboratory and translates the latest findings to improve patient care. Dr. Oghalai is board certified in otolaryngology and neurotology and is a senior examiner for the American Board of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery several times.
About John S. Oghalai, MD
Our laboratory’s research is designed to better understand the fundamental changes in cochlear function that underlie progressive hearing loss and to develop novel techniques to treat this problem before it leads to deafness. Clinically, our ultimate goal is to improve human health not only by caring for our patients expertly, but also by advancing our scientific knowledge base so that all physicians can treat disease more effectively.
We have two major thrusts. Our basic science/translational research efforts are designed to better understand the mechanisms of hearing loss and our clinical research approaches are targeted to directly and rapidly improve the care of patients with hearing loss.
A common clinical scenario is that a child is initially identified with a partial hearing loss, which then progresses to profound hearing loss over a period of months to years. Genetic defects are responsible for over half of these cases, however the specific mechanisms of how many of these mutations cause progressive sensorineural hearing loss is unclear. Right now, all we can tell a patient with hearing loss is that we know they have hearing loss, and that it is because of a problem in the cochlea. There are no more detailed tests available.
Because of the difficulty in performing auditory research in humans, we often study normal and transgenic mice that have hearing loss. We strive to perform comprehensive evaluation of the pathophysiology that creates the hearing loss. For example, cochlear function is monitored with measurements of the compound action potential, the auditory evoked brainstem response, distortion product otoacoustic emissions, and the cochlear microphonic. Furthermore, we have developed novel optical technology, termed Volumetric Optical Coherence Tomography and Vibrometry (VOCTV), for in vivo imaging of the cochlea. This allows us to measure how the various tissues within the cochlea respond to sound, and we perform this imaging non-invasively, peering through the bone.
Our clinical research is focused on improving what we are currently doing to help patients, particularly children, with hearing loss. Cochlear implants (CI) are the most common treatment for deafness. While many factors influence the ability of a deaf child who is hearing through a CI to develop speech and language skills, an important factor is to properly program the CI. However, implementing the optimal CI program is a challenging, individualized, and iterative process with variable success.
One difficulty in CI programming is obtaining behavioral measurements from the young children in which CIs are usually implanted. Therefore, we are developing the technique of near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to functionally image activity within the auditory cortex of children hearing through a cochlear implant.
As well, we are finishing up a multi-site, prospective randomized clinical trial of deaf children with special needs. The goal of the study is to determine the best treatment options for children that require such complex and individualized care.
- Cochlear implantation
- Facial nerve diseases
- Hearing loss
- Skull base surgery
- Vestibular schwannomas (acoustic neuromas)