Morgan Technical Ceramics Announces Pioneering Ceramic Speech Valve that Offers New Hope to Throat Cancer Patients

Leading manufacturer of ceramic components Morgan Technical Ceramics is working with University of Hull spin off company, Avoco Medical Ltd, on a pioneering speech-restoration project for patients with throat cancer. The company is taking to market a new patent-protected speech valve that uses zirconia ceramic components that enable valve life to increase, resulting in less frequent valve changes for patients. This improves quality of life for patients and reduces cost to healthcare providers.

Up to 15 per cent of patients diagnosed with throat cancer every year require a laryngectomy (removal of the larynx), which results in speech loss. Some speech and vocal function can be restored through the use of valves that reconnect the trachea (wind pipe) and esophagus (food pipe). Current valve designs consist of a tube (stent) and incorporate a flap that opens as air is forced through.

Traditionally the valve is made from silicone rubber, but as the material is exposed to a hostile and non-sterile environment a biofilm develops on the surface. As a result, the performance of the valve deteriorates so that it has to be replaced, typically every three months, which is a distressing procedure for the patient and costly to healthcare providers.

Ceramic is a more attractive material because of its stability, biocompatibility and compliance. It has a hard, impervious surface, which makes it more resistant to the hostile environment. Laboratory tests have shown that ceramic valves should last more than two years - at least eight times longer than silicone ones.

"We started this project with Avoco Medical two years ago and are pleased that our Zyranox zirconia ceramic has proven to be highly resistant to biofilm during extensive laboratory testing," says Yannick Galais, Morgan Technical Ceramics. "This longer lifetime of the valve generates less trauma for the patient as the device does not have to be changed so often and it also delivers cost saving for all medical providers."

"We approached Morgan Technical Ceramics for their ceramics expertise and manufacturing excellence," says Professor Michael Fagan, Technical Director, Avoco Medical. "The Kingston speech valve includes three ceramic components that must be precision-manufactured so they work together properly. The company has the ability to manufacture the parts to tight tolerances and complex geometries, which is essential to providing high quality and reliable valves."

Morgan Technical Ceramics offers custom designed components in Zyranox, which is biocompatible and complies with ISO13356 certification for "implants for surgery using nonmetallic materials." "Custom design implantable components are also available in Vitox(TM) alumina and Vitox(TM) AMC (Alumina Matrix Composite) materials, both complying with the ISO 6474 standards. Applications include reconstructive joints, neurostimulation housings for cochlear implants, Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) and Implantable Pulse Generators (IPG).

The company's site in Rugby is also ISO13485:2003 certified, which means the company provides medical devices and related services that consistently meet customer and regulatory requirements.

The speech valve design, which is protected by a worldwide patent, will be supplied with a specially designed multi-function insertion tool.

For further information, please contact:

Kristin Nugent, (617) 367-0100, ext. 148

Lorraine Henry, Tel +44 (0)1299 872217


About Morgan Technical Ceramics

Morgan Technical Ceramics manufactures components and sub-assemblies using an extensive range of materials, including structural and piezoelectric ceramics, dielectrics, braze alloys, and specialist coatings. It works with manufacturers' design and R&D teams at the local, national and international level on projects from concept and feasibility studies through prototype development to full production. The business employs some 2,500 people and has 23 manufacturing sites worldwide across Europe, the US, Mexico, China and Australia.

Morgan Technical Ceramics is a business within the Morgan Ceramics Division of The Morgan Crucible Company plc, one of the world's leading advanced materials companies. The company specializes in the design, manufacture and marketing of ceramic and carbon products which are used in a wide range of applications, from transport and telecommunications to fire protection and medical instruments. Morgan Crucible is listed on the London Stock Exchange in the engineering sector.

For more information on Morgan Technical Ceramics visit or contact one of our sales offices below:


Morgan Technical Ceramics, Bewdley Road, Stourport, Worcestershire, DY13 8QR.

Tel +44 (0)1299 872210 Fax +44 (0)1299 872218


North America

Morgan Technical Ceramics, 26 Madison Road, Fairfield, NJ 07004, USA

Tel +1 800 433 0638 Fax: +1 973 227 7135



Morgan Technical Ceramics, Dingshu Town, Yixing City 214221, Jiangsu Province, P.R. China

Tel +86 21 59 90 61 39 Fax +86 21 59 90 61 27


All Topics