Middle ear implants

Middle ear implants are suitable for those with a mild-moderate mixed or conductive hearing loss or a sensorineural hearing loss.

A middle ear implant is a more recent hearing implant, offering an alternative to conventional hearing aids. It may be considered for those who suffer with earmould allergies, skin problems in their ears, outer ear infections, narrow, collapsed or closed ear canals, or malformed ears.

It can also provide (for mixed or conductive hearing losses) an alternative to a bone anchored hearing aid for those with any of the above ear problems who also have healing issues, dexterity problems, or those who might find difficulty in keeping a bone anchored hearing aid clean.

Image: Courtesy of MED-EL

How does a middle ear implant work?

An middle ear implant has two parts: an external part (the ‘processor’) and the surgically implanted internal part. The processor transmits sound to the internal part of the hearing implant. This consists of a receiver just below the skin to pick up the sound from the processor, together with the implant, which is attached to one of the bones in the middle ear, or attached near to the membrane window of the cochlea. The implant works by directly moving the bones of the middle ear, or by vibrating the membrane window of the cochlea.

In either case, it is designed to amplify sounds by adding extra movement into the natural hearing pathway. The middle ear implant relies on a working cochlea and hearing nerve.

Image: Courtesy of MED-EL

Diagram showing how a middle ear implant works

Who can be considered for a middle ear implant?

A middle ear implant may be considered when a conventional hearing aid cannot be worn, or does not give effective benefit.

What can I expect from a middle ear implant?

Middle ear implants offer amplification without an ear mould in the ear. This makes them more comfortable if you experience discomfort or infections in your ear. Some people also report that they have a more natural sound than conventional hearing aids for the same reason. They do not restore your hearing to normal, but can make managing in everyday situations easier.

The audio processor of a middle ear system can be connected to external devices via Bluetooth or telecoil. This enables the signal from your mobile phone, MP3 player, FM system or assistive listening device to be transmitted wirelessly to the audio processor with no loss of sound quality.

How a middle ear implant works video

Courtesy of MED-EL

Further information about middle ear implants

Please visit MED-EL’s website.

Webpage reviewed: November 2022

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