Surgically Implanted Hearing Devices
A variety of hearing technologies have been developed that are implanted surgically to transmit increased sound vibrations to the inner ear. These include:
Middle ear implants. Surgically attached to one of the bones of the middle ear, middle ear implants move middle ear bones directly, strengthening sound vibrations to the inner ear. They are useful for people with sensorineural hearing loss.
Middle ear implants are among the newest advances in hearing loss treatment. So it's important to speak to a specialist who has experience implanting them. Because they are placed in the middle ear, they are almost completely concealed. They also eliminate the problem of feedback and can remain in place when swimming or bathing.
- Bone-anchored hearing aids. These devices are surgically implanted into the bone behind the ear, where they transmit sound into the inner ear through the skull. Bone-anchored hearing aids are typically recommended for people with:
- Hearing loss in just one ear
- Congenital defects in the shape of their ear canals
- Conductive or mixed hearing loss with chronic ear infections
- Cochlear implants. If the inner ear is severely damaged, even the most powerful hearing aid can't restore hearing. In that case, your doctor may recommend a cochlear implant. Cochlear implants bypass damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve that relays sound to the brain. A cochlear implant consists of a microphone positioned behind the ear and a transmitter placed surgically under the skin. Sound information is relayed to electrodes that are surgically implanted in the inner ear.
Cochlear implants can help adults who are deaf or severely hearing-impaired. They can also help children with profound hearing loss develop speech and language skills. But it often takes time and practice to interpret the signals they provide to the brain as sound.