BAHA (Bone Anchored Hearing Aid)
The BAHA device was designed for patients with sensorineural or conductive hearing loss. The advantage is that it is a placed in a small area behind the ear and it is camouflaged within the hairline. The bone anchored hearing aid can give very clear hearing for patients who have a conductive hearing loss. For those with sensorineural hearing loss on one side, the sound will be transmitted by the skull to the other side allowing the patient to hear sounds well from both sides of the head.
The bone anchored hearing aid is an osteo-integrated screw device, similar to dental implants, that is placed in the bone behind the ear. There is a small post above and behind the ear to which a hearing aid is clipped. The hearing aid will then vibrate the post, which transmits this vibration to the skull and to the inner ear. The clarity is usually excellent for patients with a BAHA.
The surgery for the BAHA can be performed in either one or two stages. Dr. Fritsch generally uses the one stage procedure. This causes less trauma and avoids repetitive surgery.
After the surgery, there is a period of healing of the skin around the post. This can take two to three weeks. During this time period, the area must be kept dry. The hair is washed and shampooed over a sink with the area behind the operated ear staying dry. After the three week period, shampooing can take place normally. The key for the BAHA is that after shampooing it is dried and the post is cleaned.
After the surgery, a four month bone healing period for the screw to osteo-integrate with the bone is required. If the bone has not grown into the implant, then it can slowly vibrate loose from use.
BAHA devices can also be used on both ears. This is commonly done for patients with congenital problems of development for both ears. Sometimes reconstructive surgery cannot be performed for the patient and the BAHA is an excellent alternative for these patients. The BAHA device has been commonly in use for at least ten years.
There are two other devices which have appeared recently. One is known as the Optima Ponto system which is very similar to the BAHA system. Another completely different strategy is a new device known as the Sophono. The Sophono device has a buried screw and then the hearing aid is held on with a magnet transcutaneously. It offers the great advantages that there is no post clip-on and, therefore, no special cleaning is needed.