At the recently concluded 10th International Conference on Cochlear Implants and Other Implantable Auditory Technologies held in San Diego, California on April 10 – 12, a group of investigators from the Loyola University Chicago presented generally positive clinical results from the study of patients implanted with the Baha® bone conduction implant from Cochlear. The device is not a new one. It was cleared by the FDA in 1996 as a treatment for conductive and mixed hearing loss. (At that time, the device was made by Entific Medical Systems, which was later acquired by Cochlear.) And since 2002, the device has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of unilateral sensorineural hearing loss.
A quick look at Baha system:
The Baha system utilizes direct bone conduction, which allows the bone to transfer sound to a functioning cochlea – thereby bypassing the middle ear. This unique hearing treatment is the only system of its kind cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat hearing loss.
One reason the Baha system works so well is due to its simple design. The Baha system combines a sound processor with an abutment and a small titanium implant. The implant is placed behind the non-functioning ear. Surgery is minor, and Baha recipients report a wide range of advantages over other hearing devices.
The Baha system, which is based on bone conduction, utilizes a titanium implant, which is placed in the skull bone behind the ear. An abutment connects the sound processor with the implant in the bone. This creates direct (percutaneous) bone conduction. In contrast, traditional bone conductors connect indirectly to the bone through unbroken skin (transcutaneous) and work by exerting pressure against the skull.
Direct bone conduction, provided by Baha, gives improved access to sound when compared to traditional bone conductors since sound is not weakened when passing through the skin.