What is a bone-anchored auditory implant?

A bone-anchored auditory implant is a surgically implanted prosthetic device for the ear. The implant may partially restore hearing for people with conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss, or single-sided deafness.

A bone-anchored auditory implant includes a titanium abutment, which is implanted in the bone behind the ear. A sound processor is attached to the abutment and transmits sounds to the inner ear and hearing nerve, using bone conduction.

How do you find out if you or your child should get a bone-anchored auditory implant?

The decision-making process involves several appointments and thorough testing by many types of specialists. You or your child may have to have some or all of the following evaluations:

  • Comprehensive audiologic diagnostic testing: Testing is performed to accurately judge hearing loss and to discuss the most helpful follow-up services and/or technology.
  • Bone-anchored auditory implant evaluation: Your hearing device options are discussed, and you will have the opportunity to trial a demo device in the office.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan
  • Medical/surgical consultations: The surgeon meets with you to see if you are medically able to have the needed procedures. The surgeon will talk with you about instructions, the procedure, and what to expect after surgery in terms of healing and possible hearing outcomes.
  • Communication evaluation: Auditory, speech, and language skills are evaluated.
  • Insurance consultation: Individual coverage is considered, and financial impact of procedure and hearing device is discussed.

In general, bone-anchored auditory implants are appropriate for adults and children with conductive or mixed hearing loss in one or both ears, or single-sided deafness (SSD). It’s crucial you or your child take part fully in the (re)habilitation process, have family support, and a clear understanding of the benefits of bone-anchored auditory implants.

Other options for these types of hearing loss may include traditional amplification or CROS/BICROS hearing aids. During your evaluation, your hearing health professionals will talk with you about appropriate options for your hearing loss.

Children under 5 years old are considered to be too young for surgical placement of the device. These children may be able to use the hearing device on a soft headband. Your hearing health team will discuss this option with you.

How is a bone-anchored auditory implant different from a traditional hearing aid?

A traditional hearing aid sends sound signals through the hearing system by a method called air conduction. This method may not provide enough amplification in some cases of conductive or mixed hearing loss or single-sided deafness. A bone-anchored implant uses bone conduction to transmit sound signals using sound vibrations to the hearing ear.