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Bone Conduction Hearing Implantation

Why does my child need a bone conduction hearing implant?

There are 3 types of hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss is usually caused by malformation, disease, or damage to the ear canal, ear drum, or middle ear. Sensorineural hearing loss is usually caused by malformation, disease, or damage to the inner ear (cochlea) or hearing nerve. Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. All types of hearing loss have a variety of causes and can be present at any age, even at birth.

Optimizing your child’s hearing can help with speech and language development, school performance, and communication. Bone conduction hearing implants are a special kind of hearing aid that has a surgically implantable component. Depending on your child’s age and type of hearing loss, your doctor may suggest this type of hearing aid. These can help children with conductive hearing loss in one or both ears, mixed hearing loss in one or both ears, or single-sided deafness (profound sensorineural hearing loss in one ear with normal hearing on the other side). Bone conduction hearing implants can help children hear better when other kinds of hearing aids are not an option. 

How do bone conduction hearing implants work?

Bone conduction hearing implants deliver sound by vibrating the bone in the skull. For children with conductive or mixed hearing loss, bone conduction hearing implants bypass parts of the ear that are not working by sending sound directly to the cochlea. For single sided deafness, the implant sends sound from the deaf ear to the hearing ear.

How is bone conduction hearing implant surgery done?

These implants are inserted by an ear, nose, and throat surgeon. The ENT surgeon makes an incision in the scalp tissues behind the ear and places a titanium screw into the skull with specialized instruments. The hearing aid component that is then connected to this screw depends on the type of bone conduction implant your doctor has recommended. The implant connects to an external sound processor either directly through a small opening in the skin or, more commonly, with a magnet. Your child will receive the external hearing aid at the postoperative visit with his or her audiologist.

Your child will be under general anesthesia (fully asleep) for the procedure. In this day and age, general anesthesia is very safe and your child will be carefully monitored by the anesthesia team during the procedure. The surgery typically takes around 1 to 2 hours and your child can go home the same day the surgery is performed.

Are there any instructions I need to follow before surgery?

Your child must have a physical examination by his or her pediatrician or family doctor within 30 days before surgery to make sure he or she is in good health. The provider you see needs to complete the History and Physical form provided by our office. You must bring the completed form with you the day or surgery. If your child does not have a preoperative history and physical, the surgery will be cancelled.

For your child’s safety, it is very important they have an empty stomach when anesthesia is given. Please follow our preoperative Eating and Drinking Guidelines. If you do not follow these guidelines, your child’s surgery will be cancelled.

What can I expect after surgery?

Your child will wake up in the recovery room after surgery. When your child is awake, they will then be taken to the post-operative area to complete the recovery. You can be with your child once they are transferred to this area.

Your child will have a dressing over the surgical site.  This is usually a gauze dressing with or without a soft headband. Your surgeon will tell you how long to keep the dressing on.  Your child may have some swelling around the incision site. Your surgeon may recommend an ointment (most often Bacitracin, Vaseline®, Aquaphor®, or Bactroban) to apply to the incision for a few days. Incisions should be kept dry for 2 to 3 days.  Stiches are self-dissolving and do not need to be removed.

Your child may have mild discomfort after surgery for about a week after surgery.  If your child complains of pain, you can safely give Tylenol® (acetaminophen) or Motrin® (ibuprofen), or other pain medicine prescribed by your doctor. If you are not sure what medicines are safe, please call your doctor.

Fevers up to 102.0 F are considered normal after surgery. Call your provider for fevers over 102.0 F that do not come down with Tylenol® (acetaminophen) or Motrin® (ibuprofen).

Encourage quiet indoor play for the first few days after surgery and follow your doctor’s instructions on returning to school and other activities. Your child will have an appointment to see your surgeon in 3 to 4 weeks. There will also be an appointment with their audiologist in 3 to 12 weeks to receive and program the external processor.  You will have other future appointments with the audiologist to make sure your child is getting benefit from their new device.

Questions?

If you have any questions or would like further information specific to your child, please call our office at 612 874-1292.

The information provided in this brochure is not specific to your child. This information is provided as s service to our patients. The information is for educational and informational purposes only and should NOT be used as a substitute for the advice of your child’s medical provider.

Reviewed 11/2022

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit www.childrensmn.org/educationmaterials.

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