A "BAHA" is a type of implantable hearing device. There are two essential
components. One is a titanium post that is implanted into the skull bone behind
the ear. The other component is a sound processor that attaches to the titanium
post. The BAHA system is unique because it transmits sound waves through the
skull bones directly to the hearing organ (cochlea). This is useful in cases of
congenital anomalies where the outer ear or middle ear do not develop properly
to conduct sounds to the cochlea. Other reasons to use this device would be for
chronic infections that might damage a traditional hearing aid or in cases where
one ear is deaf and the other is normal. In these cases of "single sided
deafness," sound from the deaf, implanted ear is conducted through the skull to
the good ear. This can help with localizing sounds or in conversations where
people are speaking from the deaf side such as in a car.
The surgery to implant a BAHA system is simple and does not require any
surgery on the ear itself. The surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure
and will take about one hour. Patients may go home from the hospital that same
day. Most patients can return to work in a day or two. Healing takes several
weeks and the processor is not activated for 4 to 6 weeks after the surgery.
There is a small amount of routine care for the implanted abutment that each
patient must perform and this varies some for each patient.
In the past some insurance companies have not paid for implantation of the
BAHA system. Recent Medicare changes are likely to affect this and in the future
more insurance companies are likely to provide this benefit.