Medicine
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What is a Bone-Anchored Hearing Aid?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A bone-anchored hearing aid is a medical device used by people with hearing loss. This type of hearing aid conducts sound directly through the bone to the inner ear. People may be candidates for such devices if they cannot wear conventional hearing aids in the ear. A minimally invasive surgery is required to wear a bone-anchored hearing aid, and the patient will need several appointments to fit and adjust it for comfort.

This device includes a titanium screw used to conduct sound from a fixture attached to a fitting at the top of the screw. In the initial implant procedure, the screw will be placed just behind the ear in the patient's hairline. The bone will eventually grow around the screw in a process known as osseointegration, holding it firmly in place and allowing it to support the external attachment. Sound is conducted along the length of the screw to the patient's cochlea, allowing the patient to hear.

Bone-anchored hearing aids may be used for those with the ear canal.
Bone-anchored hearing aids may be used for those with the ear canal.

Bone-anchored hearing aids can be useful for patients with conductive hearing loss, caused by problems with moving sound signals through the ear canal. People with unilateral hearing loss, where only one ear is involved, can also benefit from wearing a bone-anchored hearing aid. These individuals can experience disorientation and difficulty understanding speech as a result of the partial hearing loss, and may feel more comfortable with a hearing aid. Individuals with unusually shaped ears or recurrent ear infections may not be able to wear a conventional hearing aid and could find a bone-anchored model more workable.

Individuals who feel disoriented as a result of unilateral hearing loss may benefit from wearing a bone-anchored hearing aid.
Individuals who feel disoriented as a result of unilateral hearing loss may benefit from wearing a bone-anchored hearing aid.

People can remove the external portion of the hearing aid if they do not feel like wearing it. The screw itself cannot be removed once the bone has started to fuse. People who receive a bone-anchored hearing aid and later change their minds about it can simply leave the attachment exposed, allowing their hair to grow freely over it. It should not be noticeable except when it is inspected very closely.

Surgeons should follow strict sterilization protocols in order to reduce the risk of infection and other complications after placing a bone-anchored hearing aid.
Surgeons should follow strict sterilization protocols in order to reduce the risk of infection and other complications after placing a bone-anchored hearing aid.

Bone-anchored hearing aids can be implanted in people of all ages, with successful surgeries in very young children possible as long as their skulls are well developed. If a patient is a good candidate for the procedure, a doctor can discuss the risks and benefits and provide information. The most common risk is infection around the implant site caused by poor hygiene or inadequate safety controls during surgery. Patients will be provided with detailed instructions on caring for the bone-anchored hearing aid to reduce the risk of complications.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

anon136991

A bone anchored implant is surgically implanted. It is also referred to as a bone anchored hearing aid, or a bone anchored hearing system. It is usually used for less severe hearing loss that is conductive, mixed, or unilateral. Bone anchored implants work by transmitting sound vibrations to the ear's cochlea through vibrations via bone conduction.

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    • Bone-anchored hearing aids may be used for those with the ear canal.
      By: kocakayaali
      Bone-anchored hearing aids may be used for those with the ear canal.
    • Individuals who feel disoriented as a result of unilateral hearing loss may benefit from wearing a bone-anchored hearing aid.
      By: chuugo
      Individuals who feel disoriented as a result of unilateral hearing loss may benefit from wearing a bone-anchored hearing aid.
    • Surgeons should follow strict sterilization protocols in order to reduce the risk of infection and other complications after placing a bone-anchored hearing aid.
      By: Tyler Olson
      Surgeons should follow strict sterilization protocols in order to reduce the risk of infection and other complications after placing a bone-anchored hearing aid.
    • People with recurrent ear infections may not be able to wear a conventional hearing aid.
      By: Vladimir Voronin
      People with recurrent ear infections may not be able to wear a conventional hearing aid.
    • A person with a hearing impairment may benefit from a bone-anchored hearing aid.
      By: slasnyi
      A person with a hearing impairment may benefit from a bone-anchored hearing aid.
    • Hearing loss is particularly common among elderly individuals.
      By: PictureArt
      Hearing loss is particularly common among elderly individuals.