After a long illness, Professor Vittorio Colletti, born in 1943, passed away on 2 January 2024 at the age of 80. He graduated in record time at the University of Padova, specialising in the late 1960s in otorhinolaryngology and neurosurgery. Later, he became chairman of the ENT Department at the University of Verona.  

In the early 2000s, he popularised implantation of the cochlear apex via the middle-fossa approach in patients with an ossified cochlea. Also in the 2000s, he was the first surgeon to perform brainstem implants in non-NF2 patients and he did the first ABI procedures in children, including the first bilateral ABI in children and adults.   

He undertook numerous surgeries all over the world. Sometimes I had the honour of assisting and accompanying him. Our personal friendship began in autumn 2002, when the Symphonix company was taken over by MED-EL and the Vibrant Soundbridge middle-ear transplant was introduced.  

In May of 2005, he did the first round-window placement of a Vibrant Soundbridge floating mass transducer; this procedure changed the surgery of active middle-ear implants. We did Vibrant surgical courses together, and he was my teacher for auditory brainstem implantation. We operated together in China, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Austria and Italy. 

Prof Colletti was a very special personality who attracted controversy which did not endear him to certain colleagues. Nonetheless, he was an undisputed pioneer who lived for medicine. He was a master of the scalpel and a perfect teacher, who treated me like a son. At the EUFOS 2007 meeting in Vienna, he moderated my Vibrant Soundbridge live surgery from the Hofburg with an audience of over 600 participants. For him, this was so enjoyable and the proof of final international acknowledgement of his round-window invention.  

Prof Colletti wrote 151 scientific papers and his h-factor is 39. His inventions of the middle-fossa approach for cochlear implantation, the round-window stimulation, and the paediatric auditory brainstem implant will endure indefinitely. Our ENT world today would be not the same without him. May he rest in peace.

Wolf-Dieter Baumgartner (Prof)

MD, PhD, ENT University Department, Vienna, Austria & ENT Univ.Department Karolinska Institut, Stockholm, Sweden.

View Full Profile