Bone Conduction Devices

Unlike a traditional hearing aid which transmits sound through the ear canal, a bone conduction device transmits sound vibrations through bones in the head. The inner ear translates the vibrations the same way a healthy ear translates sound waves. These devices can be used with a surgically implanted post or magnet. They can also be worn on a headband or adhesive pad. These devices are known as bone conduction devices or bone-anchored hearing aids/devices.

Bone conduction devices provide an option for children who cannot wear a traditional hearing aid due to a variety of conditions. These may include:

  • Closure of the outside ear canal (aural atresia)
  • Small ear (microtia)
  • Conditions that cause drainage from the ear. At times these conditions could be made worse by a hearing aid worn in the ear.
  • When a person has normal hearing in one ear and a hearing loss in the other ear that is too severe to benefit from a traditional hearing aid.

Causes and Diagnosis of Hearing Loss

A child can be born with hearing loss or it may develop later in life. Talk to your doctor about testing that may help find the cause of your child's hearing loss. There are several types of hearing tests for children that may help determine the extent of your child's hearing loss.

Treatment with Bone Conduction Devices

Bone conduction devices are often best suited for children who cannot wear a traditional hearing aid and yet have one of the following types of hearing loss:

  • Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a problem conducting sound waves anywhere along the route through the outer ear, eardrum, or middle ear. This hearing loss can be unilateral (one ear) or bilateral (both ears).
  • Mixed hearing loss (UHL) occurs when there is a problem conducting sound waves anywhere along the route through the outer ear, eardrum, or middle ear as well as a hearing problem related to the inner ear (cochlea). This hearing loss can be unilateral (one ear) or bilateral (both ears).
  • Single-sided deafness (SSD) is a condition where a person has normal hearing in one ear and no functional hearing in the other so they are not able to benefit from a traditional hearing aid.

Bone Conduction Device – Evaluation

An audiologist will talk to you about the types of treatment that are best for your child's hearing loss. The various technologies available will be reviewed with you. The type of device recommended will be based on your child's needs. Learn more about the hearing aid evaluation process.

If a bone conduction device that requires surgery is recommended, the child is referred to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) surgeon. The surgeon will determine if this surgery is appropriate and safe for the child, perform the implant surgery and manage post-surgical care..

Bone Conduction Device – Fitting

An audiologist fits your child with a new bone conduction device at an appointment in the Division of Audiology. At this appointment, the audiologist programs the device. They make sure it is fit correctly and teach you and your child how to use and care for the device. If a surgically-implanted device was recommended, the device may not be fit until the surgery is complete and the surgeon feels the implant site has healed enough for fitting the device (approximately 8-12 weeks following surgery).

Bone Conduction Device – Check

After your child receives the bone conduction device, routine appointments are needed to test your child’s hearing. The audiologist will also test how well the hearing device is working. This kind of visit helps monitor your child’s progress with the hearing device. Schedule the bone conduction device check when your child’s hearing device is working well.

These services are commonly included during a bone conduction device check:

  • Hearing test with and without hearing device
  • Hearing device checks for adjustments and/or repair
  • Completion of required parent or school forms

In general your child should return for a bone conduction device check:

  • 0-3 years of age: every three months.
  • 4-10 years of age: every six months.
  • 10 years and older: annually.

However, your child’s audiologist will tell you when to come back for a visit.

Bone Conduction Device – Troubleshooting

A bone conduction device troubleshooting appointment is scheduled when your child’s device is not working properly. This appointment is not scheduled far in advance. It is for patients who have a sudden problem with their bone conduction device. The patient may not need to come to the appointment. This type of appointment is scheduled when one or more of the following happen:

  • The bone conduction device quits working or does not work all the time.
  • The bone conduction device makes odd sounds like whistling or buzzing when it is worn correctly.
  • The bone conduction device doesn’t sound clear.

Contact Us

For more information, contact the Division of Audiology, 513-636-4236.

Last Updated 03/2019

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