The middle ear implant was invented in the early 90’s. The first patient was implanted in 1996. FDA approval was granted in 2002. As of 2002 there are over 800 middle ear implant recipients worldwide.
The Middle Ear Implant is a New, Direct Drive Hearing Technology, Made up of Two Components:
• The internal medical device, which is surgically implanted, consists of a receiver (Vibrating Ossicular Prosthesis) and a Floating Mass Transducer
• The external component is referred to as the Audio Processor, which is worn behind the ear and is easily covered by the hair. There are no visible cords or wires. The Audio Processor is a digital signal processor that is programmable.
• Recipients must be 18 years of age or older
• History of difficulty or dissatisfaction with traditional hearing aids
• Mild to severe sensorineural hearing loss
• Normal middle ear function (no conductive hearing loss, no middle ear surgeries)
• Word identification scores of 50% or better
• Realistic expectations and motivations
• Eliminates occlusion (stopped up feeling) due to an open ear canal•* Research shows better performance in background noise
• Significantly reduced feedback (whistling) due to the mechanics of the device and the type of transducer
• Better frequency response due to greatly superior receiver technology
• Better clarity and more high frequency emphasis
• Eliminates the need for repair due to wax or moisture problems which can damage a traditional hearing aid
Sound is picked up from the Audio Processor and is transferred across the skin electromagnetically to the implanted receiver. The receiver then transmits the signal to the floating mass transducer which directly vibrates the ossicles (copying the way a “normal” ear moves the ossicular chain) and sends the signal to the cochlea. This ossicular motion moves the fluid in the cochlea that stimulates the hair cells in the cochlea. The hair cell movement stimulates the auditory nerve, which sends the signal to the brain for interpretation.
Since the implant bypasses the middle ear, sound goes directly to the cochlea. This avoids the problems of contaminated and dampened sound caused by placement of a traditional hearing aid in the ear canal.
We do not currently offer middle ear implants. The company whose implants were, in our opinion, the best for our patients’ needs has gone out of business, apparently due to inadequate financial backing. When we identify a product we can oconfidently offer – that will meet our patients’ needs and our own strict clinical standards, and which is offered by a stable well-financed company — we will again offer this exciting technology to our patients.