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Medical Mystery: A Tenor Turns Flat

It took a team of experts to figure out why opera star David Lomeli was singing off key.

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta

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David Lomeli’s opera career was just taking off when it came crashing down. Suddenly, he began singing off key. “I was constantly flat,” he says. “I made a deal with the opera company that I would withdraw from the tour. It was the hardest time ever in my life.”

But it didn’t make sense to him that one day he could sing and the next he couldn’t. His search for an answer brought him to Diana Orbelo, PhD, a voice expert at the Mayo Clinic who is also a singer herself.

“He has one of the most amazing tenor voices that I have ever, ever heard,” Dr. Orbelo says. She assembled a team and started looking for answers. They found two problems: Acid reflux was damaging Lomeli's vocal chords, and a slight hearing deficiency was interfering with his ability to correct his own pitch.

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Acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) can be corrected in several ways. For Lomeli, the best solution was a small bracelet of magnetic beads that surgeons wrapped around the end of his esophagus. The bracelet helps keep acid in the stomach where it belongs.

The hearing deficiency was harder to fix. Lomeli was given specialized lessons so he could hear his own voice more accurately and correct his pitch.

Lomeli says he is now singing better than he ever has, and his career is back on track.

Last Updated:1/5/2015

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Date: 10.12.2018, 12:46 / Views: 45233