• Implantable Devices - Hearing Aid Center

    Elizabeth H. Toh, MD, Department of Otolaryngology examines a patient.  

    For people with hearing loss caused by severe damage to the ear canal, the ear drum, the middle ear bones or the inner ear, implantable devices can provide significant hearing improvement.

    A surgical implant is very different from a hearing aid. Hearing aids amplify sound. Implants compensate for damaged or nonworking parts of the middle or inner ear, thereby enabling patients who are not candidates for traditional aids to hear.

    Implanting a hearing device is a surgical procedure performed by an otologist (ear surgeon). Otologists are trained in surgery as well as medicine. At Lahey Hospital & Medical Center three types of devices are offered:

    • Cochlear Implant: A cochlear implant is a surgically-implanted electronic device which helps to restore hearing in individuals with hearing loss who no longer benefit from conventional hearing aids. This type of hearing loss is usually caused by damage or a defect in the inner ear. The implant bypasses the damaged inner ear nerve endings and directly stimulates the auditory nerve to send sound information to the brain.

    • Bone-anchored Hearing Aid (Bahas): Bahas are indicated for patients with single sided deafness or patients with conductive hearing loss who are not surgical candidates and cannot use conventional hearing aids. The procedure can be performed in the doctor's office under local anesthesia or in the operating room under general anesthesia. This implantable device bypasses the abnormal conduction pathway of the ear, sending vibrations directly to the inner ear on both sides. The surgeon implants a tiny screw into the skull behind the ear. After the designated healing period, a receiver is attached to the screw and turned on. When the receiver picks up a sound, it sends a vibration through the screw into the skull, and directly to the inner ears.

    • Med-El Vibrant Soundbridge® Middle Ear Implant System (MEIS): For patients with mild to moderate sensorineural hearing loss who have found benefit from traditional aids but complain of a blocked feeling in the ear (occlusion effect), recurring ear canal infections or problems with acoustic feedback. This is a "direct drive system," so no ear mold is used. There is a small external device that is held to the skin via an implanted magnet. This procedure must be performed in the operating room under general anesthesia.

    The Department of Otolaryngology at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center has the expertise and technology to implant all of these devices. Your physician will help you determine whether an implantable device is right for you. These devices may not be covered by insurance.

    For more information, please call 781-744-2528. 

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