Hearing technology has advanced in leaps and bounds in recent decades, with more options to support those living with hearing loss than ever before.
Bone conduction hearing devices, also known as bone-anchored hearing aids, have become a common treatment for some types of hearing loss.
Unlike traditional hearing aids, these small titanium implants are surgically placed in the mastoid bone behind the ear. Over time, the bone grows around and into the implant, securing it to the skull. An external sound processor is then connected to the implant via a magnet or ‘abutment’, with a microphone to capture sounds in the environment.
Once soundwaves are picked up by the sound processor, they are turned into vibrations and sent via the implant through the bones of the skull, directly to the inner ear for the brain to process.
Some bone conduction hearing devices can also be worn on a headband during a trial period before implantation, to assess the individual benefit ahead of surgery.
Who’s a candidate for bone anchored hearing aids?
Bone conduction hearing devices bypass any problems in the outer and/or middle ear, as the sound vibrations travel through the bones of the skull directly to the inner ear.
As such, they typically work best for people who have one of the following:
- Chronic middle ear disease resulting in permanent conductive (affecting the middle ear) hearing loss
- Malformation of the external ear and/or middle ear structures, known as microtia and atresia
- Single-sided deafness (severe to profound unilateral hearing loss)
- Mixed hearing loss (a combination of conductive and permanent hearing loss resulting from damage to the outer and/or middle, as well as damage to the inner ear and/or auditory nerve)