What is a bone conduction implant – and can it help me?
A bone conduction hearing device is an alternative to regular hearing aids, in that it consists of two components:
- An internal fixture that is surgically implanted and
- An external device called a sound processor that is situated at a 45’ angle behind the ear.
Once the two components connect with one another via a magnet or screw (abutment), the organ of hearing is stimulated through vibrations. These vibrations generate sound within the organ of hearing, which is sent to the brain via the hearing nerve. In other words, the sound bypasses the outer and middle ear, and the recipient hears sound through the sound processor situated behind the ear. The ear canal remains open and free from moulds or domes.
A bone conduction device differs from a cochlear implant in two main ways:
- A cochlear implant is suitable for people with sensorineural hearing loss, i.e. hearing losses that originate in the inner ear, instead of the outer or middle ears.
- The type of sound that stimulates the hearing nerve from a cochlear implant is electric in nature, whereas a bone conduction device produces acoustic sound (like that of a hearing aid).
When are bone conduction implants better?
If you are prone to outer or middle ear infections aggravated by hearing aid use, a bone conduction implant might offer a solution.
Am I a candidate?
You may be considered for a bone conduction device if you:
- Have a mixed or conductive hearing loss in one or both ears
- Are prone to outer and/or middle ear infections
- Experienced middle ear trauma or
- Present with an outer or middle ear abnormality.
What’s involved in the procedure?
It is a minimally invasive procedure, that takes less than two hours to complete under general anesthetic. Patients are usually discharged after one night’s hospital stay.
How soon will it start to work?
Four to six weeks post-surgery, the sound processor is activated by an Implant Audiologist.
You will immediately notice a change in sound once connected. As with everything new, it will take some time to adjust to the new sound quality experienced during everyday life. You will be encouraged to keep a listening diary of all the sounds you are able to hear and those you still have trouble in hearing. This will help your Implant Audiologist make the necessary changes to the sound processor at your follow -up visit.