If you suffer from hearing loss, are dissatisfied with your hearing aids, or are finding it increasingly ineffective in understanding speech as your hearing loss progresses, you may benefit from an implantable hearing device. If you are interested in a solution for your hearing impairment, a consultation with our hearing health professionals at Associates of Otolaryngology is the best way to find out which of our hearing solutions is right for you.
Implant devices work in various ways and may be recommended based on your type of hearing loss, the severity of hearing loss, or your inability to understand speech. Auditory implants include bone conduction implants (BCIs) and neural implants, such as a cochlear implant (CI).
Before reviewing different types of surgically implantable devices, It is important to understand there are three types of hearing loss that are addressed by the different implantable devices: Conductive Hearing Loss (e.g., blocked ear canal, mechanical impairment of the eardrum, and hearing bones in the middle ear), Sensorineural Hearing Loss (loss of hearing at the level of the inner ear and hearing nerve), and Mixed Hearing Loss (components of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss). Different types of hearing loss require different strategies to restore hearing.
Bone Conduction Devices
Bone conduction devices are recommended for patients with conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss, or single-sided deafness (severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss in one ear). These devices conduct sound waves through the bone to bypass the external and middle ear to reach the inner ear. This type of sound transmission is referred to as bone conduction.
Bone Conduction Implants
Bone conduction implants consist of two types of devices: active BCIs and passive BCIs. At Associates of Otolaryngology, we offer all types of bone conduction devices and will help you determine which would be most appropriate for your specific type and degree of hearing loss.
Active BCIs are newer bone conduction implants that are rapidly gaining popularity as high-fidelity bone conduction solutions. These devices are implanted into the skull behind the ear and are hidden completely underneath the skin. A speech processor is worn on the scalp that is secured via a magnet over the internal component of the implant. The externally worn speech processor detects sound, electronically transmits the signal to the internal device and produces programmable active vibration of the implant. Examples of active BCIs include the Med El BONEBRIDGE and the Cochlear Osia.
Before active bone conduction devices were developed, the most common surgical option for bone conduction was passive BCIs. These devices are also attached to the skull behind the ear and secured either through the skin (percutaneous) or via a magnet (transcutaneous) to an externally worn speech processor. In these devices, the speech processor detects sound and vibrates. These vibrations are passively conducted to the internal device, which in turn vibrates the skull for bone conduction. Examples of passive devices include the Cochlear Baha Connect and Oticon Ponto (percutaneous devices) as well as the Cochlear Baha Attract (a transcutaneous device).
The effectiveness of cochlear implants has become increasingly recognized since the late 20th century, and technological advances continue to make this implant a great solution for those who are severely hard-of-hearing or even deaf. Cochlear implants are designed for patients with either single-sided deafness or with hearing loss in both ears. A small electrode array is surgically inserted into the cochlea (the hearing organ of the inner ear) and a receiver is placed underneath the scalp behind the ear. An externally worn speech processor is secured by a magnet and worn behind the ear. Sound waves are detected, processed, and passed to the electrode as an electric signal, which then stimulates the auditory nerve to produce hearing.
There are three FDA-approved manufacturers of cochlear implants in the United States: Cochlear Corporation, Med El, and Advanced Bionics. A fourth manufacturer, Oticon, will also soon have an FDA-approved device. At Associates of Otolaryngology, we offer all FDA-approved cochlear implants and will work closely with you to determine which device is most appropriate for your hearing and your lifestyle.
Hybrid Implantable Systems
Some patients have severe hearing loss or deafness in high frequencies (high pitched sounds) but have preserved hearing in the low frequencies (lower-pitched sounds). In select cases, a hybrid cochlear implant may allow one to use the cochlear implant for their high-frequency hearing loss and a hearing aid simultaneously for their low-frequency hearing loss. This allows people to preserve and amplify natural low-frequency hearing while still gaining the benefits of improved speech understanding provided by the cochlear implant.
Hearing Solutions in Denver, CO
The experts at the Associates of Otolaryngology are well-versed in the full spectrum of treatment options for patients suffering from hearing loss. From basic hearing aids to bone conduction implants to cochlear implants, our solutions have helped hundreds achieve a better quality of life through better hearing. To learn more about these hearing implants and to find out which may be right for your unique needs, call us or contact us online today to schedule an appointment.