Bone Conduction Implants (Osseointegrated Hearing Implants) — also known as the OHI system — are surgically implantable hearing devices that are typically recommended for individuals who won’t benefit from external hearing aids for one of many possible reasons. OHI was first used more than 35 years ago and was approved by the FDA in 1996.
OHI is used to treat conductive, mixed, or one-sided sensorineural hearing loss. It utilizes direct bone conduction to transmit sound vibrations directly to the inner ear. The OHI system is comprised of three separate units — a titanium implant, an external abutment or magnet, and a sound processor — that work in tandem to successfully deliver signals that your brain translates into sound.
Who Benefits From OHI
OHI is a specialized type of hearing device, and it’s not meant for everyone who suffers from hearing loss. If hearing aids are unable to help treat your hearing impairment, however, your audiologist may recommend an auditory OHI system. Candidates for the OHI system include people suffering from the following conditions:
- Congenital hearing loss. A variety of defects can damage hearing at birth, leaving patients with limited options for successful hearing. Common congenital defects include missing, damaged, or narrow ear canals, which prevent sound from traveling successfully to the inner ear. Eardrum problems are also sometimes present at birth.
- Chronic ear infections.Regular hearing aid styles can pose a problem for people who suffer from chronic ear infections because they cause moisture to be retained in the ear and can prevent drainage. An OHI system solves this occlusion (blockage) issue by surpassing the infection-prone areas and allowing the ear canals to remain unobstructed.
- Single-sided deafness. Before the OHI system was approved for unilateral (one-sided) sensorineural deafness in 2002, treatments for profound hearing loss in one ear were very limited and ineffective. OHI solves this by transmitting the vibrations from the deaf ear to the cochlea of the hearing ear, which gives the user the impression that both ears are working while greatly reducing background-noise problems associated with unilateral deafness.
The OHI Procedure
The OHI system requires you to undergo a surgical procedure to implant the titanium portion of the device, which communicates with the inner ear. This is done under general anesthesia. While complications do exist, as with almost any surgical procedure, they are rare and almost always minor. A few months after OHI is in place, the titanium implant actually fuses to the bone in the skull. Attached to the implant is either an abutment or a magnet. If it is an abutment, the processor snaps into place; if it is a magnet, the processor is held in place by a partner magnet.
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Central Oregon ENT OHI Services
OHI uses precise and intricate technology to treat hearing loss, which results in a system that is highly effective but also very sensitive. OHI devices may require a series of minor adjustments in the weeks, months, and even years after they are implanted in order to perform at their best. At Central Oregon ENT, we offer top-notch, professional OHI system tune-ups and adjustments.