What is a bone anchored hearing device?
This title is somewhat misleading, since the bone anchored hearing system is not a traditional hearing aid and most insurance companies will cover this device.
Who benefits from wearing a bone anchored hearing system?
Bone anchored hearing systems is an appropriate medical device for specific types of hearing loss:
- Single-sided deafness can be caused by viral infection, Meniere’s disease, trauma, measles, sudden hearing loss or acoustic neuroma (if hearing cannot be preserved).
- Conductive hearing loss can be present at birth (congenital) or acquired, caused by chronic infections in the outer or middle ear space or malformation of the outer or middle ear.
How does the bone anchored hearing system work?
The bone anchored hearing device works through a process called bone conduction. When sound normally enters the ear, it is heard through a process called air conduction. Sound is collected by the external ear (called the pinna) and sent down the ear canal. It is sent through the middle ear space, where the three small ear bones are located and is processed in the inner ear, called the cochlea. Sound can also be heard through a process called bone conduction. Bone conduction sends very tiny vibrations at different pitches directly to the inner ear. It is another way of evaluating how someone can hear. The bone anchored hearing system uses bone conduction to send sound to the inner ear.
For example, an individual with single-sided deafness (hearing loss in one ear only) receives sound through the bone anchored hearing system on the “bad” ear, but the sound is sent through the skull to the opposite “good” ear.
Another example is someone with conductive hearing loss in one or both ears. The sound is not able to travel through the regular pathway to the inner ear, so the bone anchored hearing system delivers sound by bypassing the outer parts of the ear, directly to the working inner ears.
The surgeon places a small titanium abutment in the skull bone behind the ear during surgery and the patient then waits several months for the abutment to “osseointegrate” or allow the abutment and the skull bone to have time to fuse together. Once this happens, the audiologist will fit the patient with the bone anchored hearing system, programming it to give the patient amplified sound according to the hearing loss.
For more information about bone anchored hearing systems, please visit this website.
Call Camino Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic at (408) 227-6300 for more information or to schedule an appointment.