Implantable Hearing Devices (BAHA)

With recent advances in technology, there are now a wide variety of implantable hearing devices or Bone Anchored Hearing Aids (BAHA) available for adults and children with hearing loss.  Mr Verma has been responsible for setting up the multidisciplinary Implantable Hearing device clinic at ENT department in the Leeds General Infirmary, working with a team of dedicated audiologists and nurses to assess and provide patients with the best hearing solutions for their individual hearing impairments.

There are many cause of hearing loss.  They can broadly be divided into conductive and sensorineural causes.  Sometimes, both may be present.  Conductive causes can be something relatively simple to manage (eg. ear wax), or can be more complicated and require surgery (eg. glue ear, a perforated eardrum, or cholesteatoma).  Sensorineural or "nerve" hearing loss can occur for many reasons, such as after a viral infection, noise damage, and occasionally small growths (acoustic neuroma) that compress the hearing nerve leading to hearing loss, tinnitus, or balance problems.  You can read more about how the ear works, and conditions that affect it, here.

An assessment that consists of taking a good history, a thorough examination, and various hearing tests usually points to the correct diagnosis.  Sometimes specialised CT or MRI scans are useful in diagnosing the exact nature of the hearing loss.  Many hearing losses can be improved with conventional analogue or digital hearing aids.   However, for various reasons, these may not be suitable solutions for some patients and the following implantable bone anchored hearing aid (BAHA) devices are also available.  Mr Verma and his team are able to assess and advise on the suitability of these.

Mr Verma is also available to field questions or queries by direct message, here.


Cochlear Dermalock BAHA

The Cochlear Dermalock is inserted with a small operation that can be performed under local or general anaesthetic.  It is suitable for adult and paediatric patients with conductive hearing loss or single sided sensorineural hearing loss.  The video below explains how the Dermalock system works, and also provides information on the latest BAHA 5  sound processor that can be used with it:


Oticon Ponto BAHA

The Oticon Ponto device is also implanted by a small operation that can be performed under local or general anaesthetic.  Again it is suitable for adult and paediatric patients with conductive hearing losses.  The video below provides more information on the Oticon Ponto system.


Cochlear Attract subcutaneous BAHA

This is the latest offering from Cochlear, and has the advantage of being implanted under the skin so that there is no abutment protruding through the skin.  This is cosmetically more appealing and eradicates problems with skin reactions around the abutment.  The external sound processor is held onto the skin by a magnet coupling, so not all patients may have adequate inner ear hearing or "cochlear reserve" to be suitable for this type of implant.  The video below explains the system in more detail.


Med-El Bonebridge 

Med-El have also come up with a hearing aid system that is implanted under the skin, doing away with the need for an abutment that protrudes through the skin.  Again the external sound processor is held onto the skin by a magnetic coupling.  It works in a slightly different way to the Cochlear Attract system being an "active" rather than "passive" system, and has different suitability criteria.  The videos below explain this in more detail and demonstrate the surgery required.




Med -El Vibrant Soundbridge

The Vibrant Soundbridge system is potentially of benefit to patients with a moderate to severe sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss, or a mixed loss.  It is an "active" system that works by transmitting sound directly to the incus or stapes bones, or even the round window.  The video below provides more detail on this device.