There are three types of ear implants: bone anchored, middle ear and cochlear. Depending on the level of hearing loss and associated problems, the otolaryngologist will indicate one or the other. The progress and benefits are considerable, allowing effective socialization and communication.
Ear implants: what are they and types?
Ear implants are devices implanted totally or partially in the ear that allow sound amplification. They are used in people with hearing impairment as an alternative to hearing aids or hearing prostheses. It is indicated for children or adults who, for different reasons, do not obtain good results with conventional hearing aids.
There are basically three types of implants:
– Osseointegrated implants
– Middle ear implants
Within the middle ear implants there are also fully implanted middle ear implants without external processor:
– Cochlear implants
When each type of implant is used
As stated by experts in Otolaryngology, the indication of the type of implant will depend, fundamentally, on the type of hearing loss and the presence or not of associated problems, such as: chronic otitis, tympanic perforation, lack of canal permeability… that prevent the correct use of conventional prostheses.
How implants are placed
Ear implants always require surgery. In some of them, such as the Baha type osseointegrated implants, the technique is not complicated and the operation can be performed on an outpatient basis, without the need for hospitalization.
Benefits and disadvantages of ear implants. Recommendations
As a first measure in any patient with hearing problems, the best option will be medical treatment or, failing that, reconstructive surgery of the ear, which will restore hearing without the need for implants or prostheses.
When this is not possible, due to nerve involvement or very poor condition of the middle ear, we will indicate the adaptation of conventional prosthesis (hearing aids) and, in case of poor performance with them or impossibility of using them, implantation will be indicated.
The benefits of ear implants, therefore, are considerable, since they allow good hearing to be achieved in those cases in which other methods fail. In addition, another benefit is the fact that they can be performed without age limit, since they can be worn by the youngest to the elderly.
Progress of the patients with ear implants
Ear implants have allowed patients with significant hearing problems that we could not solve before to stop being isolated and to be able to communicate effectively with their environment.
They allow a perfect social and school integration of children born with profound hypoacusis, achieving a normal language development and allowing a correct learning. Before the advance in implants, this hypoacusis caused deaf-mutism, with its enormous consequences.