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Bone conduction hearing implants

Photo: The most common type of BCHI is a bone-anchored hearing aid or system

A bone conduction hearing implant (BCHI) is designed for people who have a functioning cochlea but the middle or outer part of the ear prevents the information reaching the cochlea in the usual way.

Diagram: Bone conduction hearing implant in place
© Entific Medical Systems

It consists of a sound processor that is held on the head behind the ear. The most common type is a bone-anchored hearing aid or system, where the sound processor is clipped on to a fixture, known as an ‘abutment’ (a small titanium screw that has been implanted in the skull just behind the ear).

Bone conduction hearing implant abutment
© Entific Medical Systems

New types of system use a magnet to hold the processor in place. Both types help sound to be conducted through the bone rather than through the ear canal and middle ear. This allows sound waves to be transmitted directly to the cochlea in the inner ear.

Would a BCHI help my child?

Having a BCHI may be an option for children who:

At what age can my child be referred for a BCHI?

The implant surgery can’t be done until the child has sufficient bone thickness and quality of the skull bone. Therefore, this type of surgery isn’t usually done until after the age of four years. However, in very young children (from birth onwards) the sound processor of a bone conduction hearing system may be worn on a soft headband.