BAHA is an implantable hearing device used to treat hearing loss. The device
works by directly stimulating the inner ear through the bone. The
BAHA has been
in use since 1977 in Europe and has been FDA approved since 1996 for conductive
and mixed hearing loss. The FDA approved its use for one-sided deafness in 2002.
BAHA is used to improve hearing in patients with chronic ear infections,
congenital external auditory canal atresia (when the ear canal does not develop)
or one-sided deafness who cannot benefit from regular hearing aids.
How does the BAHA device work?
BAHA consists of three parts: 1) The titanium implanted portion (small screw in
the bone in picture to the right), which is similar to a dental implant, 2) An
external abutment (the cone-shaped part that connects with the screw),
3) The sound processor
device) that clips onto
system works by taking the sound from the outside and transmitting it to the
inner ear through the bone. This bypasses the ear canal and the middle ear (see
anatomy). The titanium implant is placed during a minor surgical procedure and
over time integrates with the bone behind the ear. The hearing
device transmits sound vibrations through the titanium implant
to the skull and the inner ear – where the hearing takes place.
is a Candidate for the BAHA System?
BAHA is used to for people with conductive and mixed loss hearing loss with
chronic infections of the ear canal or the middle ear (area behind the ear
drum), people with a very narrow ear canal or an absent ear canal due to a
congenital ear malformation, and people who are deaf in one ear.
with chronic infections of the outer ear (ear canal) and the middle ear (area
behind the ear drum) can benefit from BAHA. Generally, people with these
conditions have a chronic unpleasant drainage from their ears. The infection
responds to conventional therapy with medications and surgery most of the time.
However, sometimes it may recur and is deemed non-threatening. In these cases or
when the infection recurs with the use of regular hearing aids that are placed
in the ear canal, the BAHA is a suitable choice for hearing improvement. Hearing
aids that are placed in the ear canal may aggravate the infection by plugging
the ear canal and contributing to increased humidity, which can allow bacteria
to grow and cause infections. The advantage of the
BAHA sound processor is that
it transmits the sound directly to the hearing organ without going through the
ear canal and middle ear. Therefore, there is no occlusion of the ear canal that
can aggravate infections. The BAHA sound processor does not cause the occlusion
effect, feedback and whistling seen with conventional hearing aids that are
placed in the ear canal.
Congenital hearing losses caused by abnormalities
or malformations of the ear canal or the middle ear can be treated with a
of these patients do not have an ear canal or an ear canal that did not develop
fully. A subset of these patients can be helped with reconstruction of the ear
canal and the middle ear. The BAHA
sound processor is directly in contact with the bone of the skull through the
titanium attachment allowing direct bone conduction (BC), the sound quality is
significantly better than the bone conduction hearing aid, which was used in the
past. There is no pressure on the skin with the use of the
prevents the pain and headaches caused by the bone conduction hearing aid.
Finally, the BAHA
can easily hide under the hair for a better cosmetic result.
for One-Sided Deafness
two hearing ears has three main advantages. 1) People with two hearing ears can
understand speech better, especially in noisy situations, such as cocktail
parties and restaurants, than those with one-sided hearing; 2) People with two
hearing ears can sit at a table and hear people on both sides without the need
for turning the head; 3) People with two hearing ears can tell the direction
from which sound is coming. The BAHA device is an excellent, cosmetically
appealing solution to this problem. Traditionally, patients would need to use
two hearing aids, one on the deaf side to pick up the signal and another hearing
aid in the hearing ear (to take the sound from the other ear and place it in the
hearing ear). This type of hearing aid is called a
CROS hearing aid. This means
the patient needs to wear two large hearing aids which can be aesthetically
the BAHA is placed on the deaf side, it picks up the sound and transmits it
through the bone of the skull (bone conduction) to the inner ear on the
hearing side. The normal ear hears sound through air conduction (sound traveling
through the air in the ear canal and vibrating the ear drum). One-sided
deafness patients with a BAHA device can hear people sitting on their deaf side
without the need to turn their head for listening. Recent studies have shown
that patients prefer the sound and speech clarity achieved with the
compared to the CROS and the unaided condition.
procedure to place the BAHA device is a short procedure that takes less than an
hour. For adults, it can be done under local anesthesia, but for children, it is
done under general anesthesia. It is done on an outpatient basis (patients go
home the same day of the surgery).
For a video of the surgery, click below. Please note this is a surgical video
and the images may be too graphic for some viewers.
3 months after surgery (sometimes 6 months
for children), the sound processor (hearing device) is placed. The 3 months is needed to make
sure the titanium attachment gets integrated into the bone. The surgery is
easily reversible, such that patients who change their mind, can have the
titanium attachment removed if needed in the future. Since the
processor produces such great quality sound, it is very rare for patients to
want the procedure reversed.
Recently, another device has been developed by Oticon by
the name of Ponto. The device has many similar features
to the BAHA device but is different in appearance and
To Make an
Appointment with Dr. Djalilian to see if a BAHA is
appropriate for your or your child, please Call
714-456-7017 or click
an appointment via the web.