Group leader:
Xabier Altuna Mariezkurrena, M.D., Ph.D.
Donostialdea IHO.
xabier.altunamariezcurrena@osakidetza.eus

Xabier Altuna graduated as a Doctor in Medicine and Surgery from the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) and is a specialist in Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery. He is currently Head of Service at the Donostia University Hospital (Donostialdea IHO) and Adjunct Professor of the UPV/EHU. He combines his clinical and surgical interest with research, especially in the area of otology, neuro-otology and auditory implants. Dr Altuna has had 90 articles published in national and international journals, 46% of them in the 1st quartile, with 795 citations received and an h-index of 11. He is currently directing 9 doctoral theses. He has also participated in more than 150 presentations and papers at national and international congresses in more than 12 countries. He is a member of the Otology Committee at the Spanish Society of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery and was recently appointed to the editorial board of the Spanish Society of Otorhinolaryngology journal (Acta Otorrinolaringológica Española). He is also a reviewer of the European journal European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology. In recent years he has completed internships at the University of California San Diego where he maintains a close relationship with its Head and Neck Surgery Department, collaborating both clinically and in the field of research.


Strategic Objectives

Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery comprises the raft of theoretical and practical knowledge required for the medical and surgical diagnosis and treatment of infectious, oncology, traumatic, congenital and degenerative pathology of the ear, pharynx, larynx, nostrils, sinus and other cervicofacial structures.

While the function of an ENT Service is to diagnose, treat and prevent said pathologies, it is also to train, and provide teaching while communicating knowledge and proceeding with research work.

We believe that research is fundamental for achieving greater knowledge of the different ENT pathologies and that it serves to offer our patients improved clinical practice.

Main research lines

  • Vestibular system:
    • Obtain greater overall knowledge of the physiology and physiopathology of vestibular-ocular reflex (VOR).
    • Contribute to establishing vHIT as the new gold standard of vestibular exploration.
      • Collaborate in the biotechnological development of coming versions of vHIT.
    • Develop a new clinical paradigm in the diagnosis of Meniere’s disease.
    • Develop the test for visual-vestibular interaction and its suppression as new complementary and alternative clinical tests to vHIT in exploration of the vestibular system.
      • Patent the visual-vestibular interaction test as a vestibular screening test.
      • Patent the visual-vestibular interaction test as the first vestibular test in young children.
    • Create a new paradigm of vestibular rehabilitation based on new physiopathological evidence of vestibular oculomotor reflex.
      • Patent a vestibular rehabilitation device adaptable to each patient.
    • Develop open code and low cost posturography systems with a view to the universal use of said exploratory technique.
  • Audiology and cochlear implants
    • Advance in the cochlear implant surgical technique.
    • Improve the diagnostic performance of genetic tests in the diagnosis of severe-profound hypoacusis.
    • Improve the auditory quality of patients with cochlear implants and understand the neurological development of patients with implants.
    • Improve knowledge of how the mother tongue is acquired in patients with cochlear implants.
    • Study of tinnitus in large populations and defined population groups.
  • Oncology pathology of the head and neck:

Given the need to understand the clinical characteristics of this group of patients in our area of influence as a 3rd level hospital, the objectives we aim to achieve in the next 5 years are:

    • Estimate the total and specific survival rate of patients treated for oncology pathology of the larynx, hypopharynx and oropharynx in our population, also endeavouring to assess the functional results, postoperative complications and quality of life.
    • Establish an active and effective connection with molecular cancer research groups at the Biodonostia Institute in order to develop projects related to the presence of molecular markers in head and neck cancer.
    • Take a closer look at the use of artificial intelligence technologies with a view to developing diagnostic and prognostic tools in patients treated for head and neck pathologies.

Other potential areas for development in the field of “innovation” are:

    • Development of artificial intelligence in the area of the head and neck, specifically correlating existing face recognition technology with clinical advances. To do this, among others, the creation of different devices for recognising facial paralysis, an interactive guide of facial rehabilitation, etc., could be strongly reinforced with the collaboration of different technology sectors and medical care.
    • Another of the potential objectives could be to establish telematic relations with the patient, being able to carry out part of the contact or care telematically.
    • Lastly, consolidate the use of 3D technology and biomaterials in order to create different reconstruction options.

Team Members

Name Surname Center E-mail
Carlos Chiesa Estomba Donostialdea IHO carlosmiguel.chiesaestomba@osakidetza.eus
Jorge Alberto Rey Martínez Donostialdea IHO jorgealberto.reymartinez@osakidetza.eus
Leire García Iza Donostialdea IHO leire.garciaiza@osakidetza.eus