A bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA) is a special type of implanted hearing aid that works by transmitting soundwaves directly through the skull rather than through the ear. BAHA consists of three parts: a titanium fixture, an abutment and an external sound processor. The fixture is surgically implanted into the bone behind the ear so that only the titanium abutment is visible. The sound processor, which “catches” the vibrations of sound waves, transfers the waves through the abutment into the bone and then to the inner ear. It allows the user to still hear sounds naturally, similar to how one hears their own voice.
BAHA is best suited for those with conductive hearing loss, unilateral hearing loss, single-sided deafness or mixed hearing loss due to damages to the middle or outer ear. This is because the BAHA system bypasses these features and transfers sound directly from outside the head into the inner ear.
The implantation is a minor surgery which takes only about one hour. The doctor will provide either local or general anesthesia before performing an incision behind the ear with hearing loss. A small hole three to four millimeters deep is drilled so that the titanium fixture and abutment can be inserted, then the skin is sewn snugly around the fixture. There can be minor post-operative pain or discomfort, but most patients can go back into their daily routines within just a few days.
It is possible to test the BAHA system to see if it will work for you. Your doctor can connect the BAHA sound processor to your head via headband, which will provide a similar hearing experience to the implant.