Bone Anchored Hearing Aid

Question: I’ve lost hearing in one ear and my ENT mentioned having a small screw-like aid surgically inserted behind the ear (that has hearing loss) could pick up the sound heard in the other ear.  Giving you the feeling you are hearing from both ears. What is this device called? Is the device called a bone anchored hearing aid?

Answer:

Yes, the device you are asking about is affectionately called a BAHA, or a bone anchored hearing aid.  A bone anchored hearing aid is placed into the bone behind the ear that hears poorly and is able to bring the sound to your other functioning ear.  A BAHA is designed to use bone conduction, using the body’s natural ability to transfer sound through bone conduction. Which is why a bone anchored hearing aid is the treatment of choice for those who have a unilateral (one-sided) hearing loss. A BAHA has the ability to give you back the feeling that you can hear from both ears by relying on the good ear to hear for both ears.

By doing this, it gives the user the illusion that you are hearing sound in both ears, not just in one. Allowing for a much more clear and “balanced” hearing since it bypasses the middle ear and the external auditory canal.  A bone anchored hearing aid is surgically embedded into the skull by a small surgical procedure performed by a hearing professional. Usually, the recovery period after surgery for a bone anchored hearing device is 4 to 12 weeks, which must be followed before your system can be programmed for the first time.

Dr. Sperling in our New York Hearing and Balance Center is a regional expert on this. If you have any questions or are in need of an appointment, please feel free to contact us.

Robert L. Pincus MD