Category Archives: Surgery

Why You Should Consider Implantation if You Use a Softband – Part 2

A difference you can hear

While studies and statistics provide clear indications that MIPS implantation improves hearing results, it always helps to hear from actual wearers who went through the procedure. We appreciate adult wearer Jody Bennett and parent of a wearer Dayla Hurley for allowing us to share their personal experiences in their own words.

Jody Bennett on switching from Ponto BAHS softband to implant

Having experienced very few surgical procedures in my life, I was at first a bit nervous and anxious, to say the least, about having the MIPS done. I had nothing to worry about! It was an easy procedure and a wonderful outcome!

I lost my hearing on my right side nine years prior due to SSHL (sudden sensorineural hearing loss). I had no idea a bone anchored hearing system (BAHS) even existed. I had tried CROS hearing aids, a ‘regular’ hearing aid, and was so frustrated I could not hear what was going on in my right side easily. After searching around on the internet and finding a Facebook group with people who had the same or similar problems, I found the Oticon Medical system and knew right away that’s what could help me.

I was immediately told by an ENT I was a good candidate for the Oticon Medical Ponto and put on the surgical list for surgery in two weeks. I was nervous but so excited I would be able to “hear” again!

The procedure was so positive. I had the surgery to implant the abutment as outpatient surgery. Everyone involved was pleasant and so helpful. I was in and out in just a few hours. No pain, just a tiny bit of a headache, which was probably due to the anesthesia. I took it easy the rest of the day and went back to work the next day. To date, I’ve not had any problems at all with the surgery site.

I think the most difficult part of the whole thing was finding the right pillow to accommodate sleeping on the side my abutment is on, which is the side I prefer the most. I found the perfect pillow and hey, no problem!

I had to wait three months before the processor was fitted to the abutment (my ENT and audiologist’s rules). I actually was able to get a softband and wear my Ponto during that time, which was great (although hearing via the softband and hearing via the abutment is such a difference!).

I have had my Ponto 4 since August 2019 attached to the abutment and I love it! I can hear what’s going on from my right side now. I can hear people whisper (when it’s a quiet setting). I can watch TV with my Oticon TV streamer, and it is amazing! I can answer phone calls using the processor! I can listen to music and watch movies on my iPad with it!

I tell anyone and everyone who is interested in my experience. And my friends and family say that I have perked back up to my ‘old’ self! I am more confident and feel less stressed. It’s amazing what having your hearing back can do for you!

Mom Dayla Hurley upgraded her son from softband to BAHS implant

We adopted Brody almost six years ago. Now that his journey to hearing is complete, I want to share our experience. Brody’s steps to MIPS and bilateral Ponto 4s were not conventional and he even had some complications. But with all that said, we would not change one thing! We are so grateful! Having the abutments has been the best thing for him. They healed so easily without extra fuss.

Our son has not been a standard situation and had a few detours along the way. After an eight-month process, he finally snapped on two Ponto 4s yesterday. He is so giddy! You could see the improvement in his audiograms over wearing the device on a softband. For us, there is no doubt that getting the implant  was the way to go. His speech has become so clear since having the implant  12 weeks ago. He started asking about noises in the car, the dryer running, and lyrics to songs he never heard before.

Just today Brody said as soon as he snapped on his Ponto 4s, “Hey, Mom, did you know that every morning the birds are singing?” I said, “Yes, Brody, did you just hear that?” He said, “Yep, I just found out that they sing every morning. I heard them yesterday and today and since I’ve had my new Pontos.”  So sweet. And innocent. He did not know everything he was missing.  We listen to music daily and Brody is often singing. We could always recognize the song he was singing by the tune, but the words were never understandable.  Since having his Ponto 4s, he is asking about the lyrics in songs on the radio saying, “Ha! I never heard that before.”  And, he is singing the correct words! We are thrilled.

Click through the link to find out everything you need to know about upgrading your Ponto device!

 

 

 

Why You Should Consider Implantation if You Use a Softband – Part 1

We are pleased to be able to offer options for people with hearing loss to benefit from our Ponto™ processors at all ages and with differing health conditions. Our processor can be worn on a hard headband, attached to a hat, or on a softband – the latter of which is particular popular with our juvenile wearers. However, the Ponto was developed as part of a complete bone anchored hearing system, meaning wearers will experience peak performance when it is attached via an abutment directly to their skull. And while children under five aren’t candidates for the implant surgery due to their developing skulls, we encourage all adults and parents of kids over five whose physical conditions don’t preclude the surgery to seriously consider implantation. Here’s why.

The MIPS procedure

The surgical method Oticon Medical uses is called MIPS (minimally invasive Ponto surgery). This procedure involves having a small titanium implant carefully inserted into the bone behind your ear. The operation can be performed under local anesthetic, and in most cases, it takes no more than a day or two to recover. Many older children and most adults can undergo MIPS successfully, unless they have a condition that affects skin or bone thickness. A consultation with a surgeon can help you determine whether you or your child is a qualified candidate.

It’s typical for people to have concerns about surgery of any kind, including the comparatively minor MIPS procedure. For example, you might have concerns about your post-surgical appearance. The good news is that MIPS was designed to create the smallest incision possible. The surgeon makes a circular incision that matches the abutment exactly using instruments specifically designed for the procedure. This leaves the skin around the incision intact, with no skin tissue or hair follicles removed from around the abutment – hence no bald spots. MIPS also removes the need for suturing, which eliminates scarring and fosters quicker healing.

Another concern might be the surgery itself – especially the use of general anesthesia, which always carries some level of risk. MIPS only takes about 15 minutes and is normally carried out under local anesthetic. And as for recovery, since the process preserves soft tissue the blood supply, micro-circulation, and nerves are left as intact as possible, thereby shortening the healing period. Most patients can return to work or school within a couple of days.

Why choose bone anchored surgery over softband?

Affixing the Ponto processor to a softband provides young children with early access to speech and sounds so they can explore and interact with the hearing world with greater ease. It also gives them a great foundation for speech development. It is a suitable solution for children with conductive or mixed hearing loss, or single-sided deafness. It can also be used by adults with these conditions who cannot benefit from conventional hearing aids or who have temporary ear problems, such as blockages or infections.

Because the adjustable softband is simply worn around the head, some wearers prefer it to having to go through any form of surgery. And it certainly works — when you attach the Ponto sound processor, it sends sound waves through the bone to the inner ear, giving the wearer access to our renowned, high quality Ponto sound. Wearing a Ponto on a softband is a valuable method of hearing rehabilitation for children too young for implantation and for adults receiving a preoperative assessment.

However, studies confirm that implantation of a bone anchored hearing device – also known as a percutaneous solution – provides the ultimate hearing improvement over wearing a processor on a softband. Hearing sensitivity through the skin with a softband, as compared to a skin-penetrating abutment, provides between eight and 20 decibels (dB) reduction in the frequency range from one to four kHz. In plain English, wearers hear better when their processor is worn on an abutment than when it is worn on a softband.

One concern is that when vibrations have to pass through the skin without an abutment, the static pressure between the softband and the skin must be high to provide the best transmission possible. The ideal requirement often causes discomfort and can result in problems in the skin and subcutaneous tissues between the processor and the bone, especially if used long-term. It can also trigger tension headaches.

Other challenges include attenuation and feedback. Attenuation refers to a reduction in sound amplification, which can affect speech understanding. Feedback, or the return of a portion of an outbound signal to the same device creating a distorted effect, occurs when sound radiates from the processor back to the microphone.

Other complaints about softbands include cosmetic appeal, and slippage that causes the processor to move out of its ideal placement. If these and the aforementioned discomforts persist, the user is less likely to wear their processor all day long, reducing the efficacy of the device. After all, you can only fully benefit from the better hearing provided by the processor if it is worn steadily – and this is particularly important for children who are still acquiring language.

In our next post on this subject, we’ll share two user experiences about upgrading from wearing processors on softbands to having MIPS and hearing with an implant.