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October 17, 2002

Hearing Aid Implant Offers Better Sound For Some Patients

From: WRAL, NC - Oct. 17, 2002

Procedure Ideal For People With Trouble Wearing Aids, Says Doctor

RALEIGH, N.C. -- A new surgical procedure being offered by a Triangle doctor implants a hearing aid into the ear. The new product is expected to help people who have trouble wearing hearing aids.

Otolaryngologist Dr. John McElveen said the new hearing aid, called Vibrant Soundbridge, is ideal for people who have trouble wearing hearing aids or want more clarity.

"This would be the same group of patients that would be considering a hearing aid," Mclveen said.

During surgery, doctors put part of the device under the middle ear drum and connect it to a receiver. An external device picks up and transmits sound to the internal receiver causing it to vibrate. It stimulates the bones of the middle ear, mimicking the natural hearing process. Magnets hold the two parts of the device together.

"This has a magnet in it as well. And you just overlap - it sort of clicks here," Mclveen said.

Surgery takes about two hours, according to Mclveen.

"This is done as outpatient surgery so they come in, have the surgery, actually go home the same day," he said.

Two months after surgery, audiologists program the device and turn it on. According to Mclveen, the first implants were done at Rex Hospital in August.

Patients who received the first implants are finishing the programming phase, but according to doctors, they are already pleased with the results.

The new hearing aid will cost around $14,000, but many health insurers are expected to cover it.

At least one study showed that patients with the implanted hearing aid had fewer complaints about background noise distortion.

Health Team
Medical Expert: Dr. Allen Mask
Health Team Producer: Andrea Moody
Photographer: Ken Bodine
OnLine Producer: Jennifer Fauteux

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