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Dr. Cyrus Lloyd Blanchard, ear surgery pioneer


Dr. Cyrus Lloyd Blanchard, whose pioneering techniques in ear surgery offered hope to the deaf and sufferers from tinnitus, died Tuesday of cancer at the University of Maryland Medical Center. The Catonsville resident was 73.

Dr. Blanchard's surgery, known as a stapedectomy, involves the removal of the stapes, a bone in the middle ear that becomes immobile because of otosclerosis, a medical condition.

"Thousands have benefited from this procedure," said Dr. William Gray, an otolaryngologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center who studied under Dr. Blanchard.

He also began a program in the early 1970s aimed at detecting hearing loss in infants.

The procedure, called an audiometry, uses electrodes on the baby's head and records brain waves as sounds are made.

"The sooner hearing loss can be identified by the physician, it gives him a much better opportunity of helping with the patient's speech development," said Dr. Gray.

Dr. Blanchard, who was the founder and former head of the Division of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center, came to Baltimore in 1957 from the House Otologic Institute in Los Angeles, where he was an otolaryngologist. He retired in 1991.

He also established a research and treatment program for victims of tinnitus, a disease that causes patients to hear a continual buzzing, or ringing or humming sound.

Dr. Blanchard's treatment centered on white noise devices that act as noise blockers, giving the patient relief. The clinic often has a six- to eight-month waiting list.

"His legacy would be the hundreds of residents and medical students that he trained in his specialty and the patients who benefited from his quality care," Dr. Gray said. Born and reared in Uxbridge, Mass., he earned his bachelor's degree in 1943 from Clark University and was a 1946 graduate of the George Washington University School of Medicine.

He trained in otolaryngology at the University of Michigan and, in the late 1940s, was assistant director of the audiology and speech correction center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

He was a member of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the Society of University Otolaryngologist, the Baltimore City Medical Society and the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland.

He enjoyed his annual summer fishing trips to Nova Scotia's Miramichi River for Atlantic salmon with his longtime friend, Dr. Richard D. Richards, a retired professor of ophthalmology at the medical school.

A memorial service is planned for 11:30 a.m. Friday at Westminster Hall, Fayette and Greene streets, Baltimore.

He is survived by his wife of many years, the former Rose Gardner; a son, Cyrus Blanchard of Baltimore; two daughters, Suzette Blanchard of Boston and Sarah Oppenheimer of New Hampshire; and two grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be sent to the University of Maryland Otolaryngology Alumni Association, 22 South Green St., Baltimore 21201.

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