Since the onset of the novel coronavirus, people considering minimally invasive Ponto surgery (MIPS) have had to ask themselves: should I hold off treating my hearing loss? The answer is that your decision – and that of the audiology professional who would perform it – will be unique to your specific circumstances. However, should you decide to proceed, rest assured that hospitals and medical facilities around the United States have implemented the strictest precautions for keeping you safe.
The MIPS procedure is an elective surgery, so the main factor affecting whether yours will go ahead as planned will be the COVID-19 restrictions currently in place where your procedure would occur. While many states are experiencing a second wave as of this writing, not every town or city within those states has been equally affected nor is every state implementing the same level of restrictions on elective surgeries. So your first step is to check the current limitations governing the region in which you plan to have the MIPS procedure.
Assuming your location would permit your procedure to take place, your next step would be to discuss options like where your surgery will take place with your hearing health professional. Your surgeon will review your overall medical history and health risks along with your personal hearing issues, and then based on this information and your expressed comfort level recommend that you have the procedure as an inpatient or outpatient. The good news is that minimally invasive Ponto surgery can and has been performed successfully in either environment, as it is a quick procedure (compared to other surgeries) and usually doesn’t require a lengthy onsite recovery, especially if it is performed under local anesthetic.
COVID-19 safety precautions at clinics and hospitals
Medical institutions around the United States have learned much from the first go-round dealing with the coronavirus and instituting the strictest safety precautions to protect patients. If you are preparing for MIPS, here is a quick rundown of what you will likely experience as your clinic or hospital takes steps to protect you, other patients, and their staff.
- COVID-19 tests and screens. You will be screened and likely take a COVID-19 test (possibly more than once) during pre-surgical and day-of surgical visits. You will also have your temperature taken and answer questions about whether you have a cough, muscle aches, loss of taste or smell, or other common symptoms of the virus. You might be told to self-quarantine at home (typically 14 days) before your procedure to reduce your risk of exposure.
- Surgical team precautions. Anyone involved in your care before, during, and after MIPS will be going through regular, multiple tests and screenings to protect you. They will also be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) that includes medical-grade face masks, face shields, gowns, and gloves. Research has shown that PPE use reduces the risk of infecting patients significantly.
- Hospital precautions. Medical facilities around the country have been and continue to take extra precautions to thoroughly clean and sanitize, especially in areas where operations take place. If a hospital also treats COVID-19 patients, they restrict that care to separate areas. This normally includes dedicating staff to only care for those patients and even requiring those patients and their visitors (if any are allowed) to use separate entrances and waiting rooms.
- Clinic precautions. As for clinics dedicated to hearing healthcare, they are regularly screening any patients that come onsite for fever and other indications of coronavirus, as well as implementing enhanced cleaning and sanitization protocols, mandating patients and staff remain six feet apart whenever possible, requiring staff to take tests if they suspect exposure, and to quarantine if they have a positive test or have reason to suspect they were exposed to coronavirus. PPE has been distributed to clinics for use during surgical and other direct procedures. Many clinics have also taken advantage of telehealth advancements to reduce the number of in-person visitors to their clinics significantly.
The decision is yours – and your surgeon’s
Ultimately, every medical decision must be made on an individual basis. A procedure that is nearly 100 percent without risk for one patient might not be safe for another. Pre-existing conditions must be taken into consideration, along with age and overall health.
That said, should you and your hearing care professional determine MIPS would be safe for you to undergo now, we are confident you will be satisfied with the results. The procedure itself is simple and usually completed in under twenty minutes. Your surgeon will place a small titanium implant in the bone behind your ear. Many patients only require local anesthesia, and there is no need for stitches. Typically, post-operative recovery requires no more than a day or two off work or out of school. And the results speak for themselves – 98 percent of users report improved quality of life after minimally invasive Ponto surgery.
If you are ready to learn more about MIPS and life with Ponto, we can help you find a clinic near you.
 Lagerkvist, H, et al., Ten years’ experience with the Ponto bone anchored hearing system – a systematic literature review. Clin Otolaryngol, 2020.