Hearing Assistance Technology
Active bone-guidance implant promises help for hearing-impaired
Med-El Medical Electronics, a provider of implantable hearing-assistance systems, has developed what it believes is the first active bone-guidance implant, the Bonebridge. Optimised energy management makes the device possible.
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The manufacturer alleges that it has made transcutaneous intact-skin technology available for bone-guidance stimulation for the first time. Its Bonebridge is easy to implant and offers the benefit of a very low rate of medical complications.
The device is particularly suitable for people suffering from sound-conduction impairment or unilateral hearing loss, which may occur as a result of illness of the middle ear or malformation of the outer ear. In addition to having a lower complications rate than earlier bone-anchored hearing devices, the intact-skin technology behind the Bonebridge improves aesthetic prospects for the patient considerably.
Already approved for adults
The Bonebridge consists of two components, the implant and the audioprocessor. The implant, with an electromagnetic transducer, inductor and magnet, is encased in a silicone sleeve and is magnetic-resonance tomography (MRT) compatible up to 1.5 T. Surgeons are supported in their choice of optimum implant position by MRT or high-resolution computer-tomography images recorded before the operation. During the operation, the surgeon can flexibly adjust the implant to the anatomic skull structure in the region behind the ear.
As soon as the surgical wound has healed and the swelling has gone down, the audioprocessor can be put on, adjusted and activated. It features more than 16 frequency bands, 8 compression channels, and technologies to optimise auditory quality. These last include a directional microphone, wind noise minimisation, sound smoothing, and a program for speech and noise management that reduces disruptive background noises without affecting speech sounds.
The Bonebridge implant is approved for adults and used in numerous ENT clinics. A clinical trial for approval of use in paediatric patients is currently under way.
For further information:
Med-El Elektromedizinische Geräte Gesellschaft mbH
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