Some patients come to you with disordered hearing that can’t be addressed by conventional hearing aids. When that happens, the conversation may turn to implant technology. The type you choose depends on the type and severity of each patient’s hearing loss. Let’s review three popular implant types and learn how they work.
Cochlear implants are used to treat the most severe cases of sensorineural hearing loss. These implants also may be used when a patient’s cochlea is dysfunctional or has been damaged. A cochlear implant is placed directly into the cochlea itself. From there, an external speech processor is wired to the implant to deliver vibration-based sound signals directly to the auditory nerve.
Bone-Anchored Hearing Aid
Bone-anchored hearing aids are ideal for patients with conductive hearing loss, missed hearing loss, or unilateral deafness. Such patients typically have a functioning cochlea on one or both sides. But their middle ear is not functioning correctly. This prevents sound from being transmitted. A traditional hearing aid does not work well for these patients.
For this implant type, the patient has a titanium post implanted directly into their skull, behind the ear. The processor is then attached to the implant. The implant uses the bone to conduct the sound waves directly to the auditory nerve. There are two types of connections:
- Attract: An attract (a.k.a. magnetic) system includes a strong magnet. The magnet connects the processor to the implant. It also transmits the sound signals through the bone.
- Connect: In this case, the processor snaps into place on the implant. This creates a direct connection. Connect systems do not require a magnet to transfer soundwaves.
Middle Ear Implant
Middle ear implants borrow elements from cochlear implants and bone-anchored hearing aids. The implant is placed inside the ear. But it doesn’t attach directly to the cochlea. It is attached either to one of the bones in the middle ear or placed in the membrane window of the cochlea.
Middle ear implants also require that a receiver be placed behind the ear and just under the skin. The receiver connects to an external processor. It relies on a fully working cochlea and hearing nerve to work. This system is best for patients who have suffered damage to their outer or middle ear but retain functioning internal nerves.
All three of these hearing technologies go far beyond a simple device the patient can put on or take off at will. They are surgical procedures which can vastly change and improve your patients’ ability to function in their daily lives. However, these procedures are also more expensive than traditional hearing aids.
That is where a partnership with CareCredit comes in. Patients shouldn’t have to settle for anything less than the best. If these implants are what you believe they need, the cost shouldn’t force them into going another route. CareCredit bridges that gap. It provides a way for patients to have the implants they need, working on a budget they can afford.