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Auditory Osseointegrated Implants (Baha)

An auditory osseointegrated implant (AOI) — commonly referred to as a Baha — is a treatment option for some people with hearing loss who are unable to wear or achieve adequate benefit from traditional hearing aids.

This treatment approach takes advantage of the fact that sound directed to the bone behind the ear (the mastoid bone) is transmitted to both inner ears at the same time.

How does an auditory osseointegrated implant work?

  • Users wear only a small device (processor) on the mastoid bone of the ear with the hearing loss.
  • The processor detects sound, including speech, that occurs on the side with hearing loss. It then converts the sound into gentle vibrations that are conducted through the bone to the inner ear.
  • These vibrations are not felt, but instead perceived as sound, allowing the patient to better hear and understand the speech of others. 
  • Use of an auditory osseointegrated implant requires a minor surgical procedure.

Is an auditory osseointegrated implant right for me?

If you or your child have hearing loss, your primary care doctor or pediatrician will refer you to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor for a comprehensive assessment.

You or your child may be a good candidate for an auditory osseointegrated implant for the following reasons:

  • For conductive and mixed hearing loss
    • You or your child have deficits of the middle and/or outer ear that cannot be corrected with medical therapy and/or surgery.
    • A conventional hearing aid is not recommended due to a chronically draining ear, a high risk of repeat ear infections or other issues.
    • You or your child cannot benefit sufficiently from a conventional hearing aid.
  • For single-sided sensorineural hearing loss
    • You or your child have hearing loss in one ear and are unable to understand speech even when it is amplified through a hearing aid.

How do I get an auditory osseointegrated implant?

If your ENT doctor determines that an auditory osseointegrated implant is a viable option based on the type and degree of hearing loss, they will talk to you about the additional testing needed to ensure that you or your child are an appropriate candidate. You must receive medical clearance to be considered for an AOI.

If you have been medically cleared and a Baha is deemed a viable option for you, your ENT doctor will refer you for an AOI/Baha evaluation appointment with an audiologist at Rush who specializes in this treatment.

What can I expect during an AOI/Baha evaluation?

  • You will learn more about how the device works, what it looks like and what to expect (and not to expect) with use.
  • You or your child will have a chance to experience firsthand what the device offers and have all of your questions answered.
  • Specialists will help you make a fully informed decision about whether an auditory osseointegrated implant is the best option for you. They will also determine which AOI processor will be most appropriate for your hearing loss or that of your child.

If you have any questions about Baha or the services provided at Rush, please contact us at hearing_help@rush.edu or call (312) 942-5332 and ask to speak with an AOI/Baha team member.

Why choose Rush for auditory osseointegrated implants

  • Expertise and experience: Team members with the Rush Auditory Implant Program have extensive experience and provide expert consultation for adults and children with hearing loss. This includes efforts to fit you with the right auditory osseointegrated implant and optimize your ability to communicate.
  • A patient-centered approach: The Auditory Implant Program is committed to providing outstanding care tailored to meet your needs and to ensuring that every visit goes as smoothly as possible. Friendly, courteous staff members provide support for you and your family throughout the process, from answering questions to helping address insurance issues.
  • High satisfaction from our patients: Audiologists at Rush are part of the Section of Communication Disorders, which is known for its outstanding customer service. Communication disorders services receive consistently high patient satisfaction scores according to Press Ganey, an organization that partners with health care facilities nationwide to measure quality of care, including patient satisfaction.
  • Nationally recognized care: The ENT program at Rush is ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report and is ranked higher than any other ENT program in Illinois.