What happens before, during and after bone conduction hearing implant surgery?
For children with microtia and atresia who may consider cosmetic surgery or prosthetic ears at a later date, it’s important that you discuss with your surgeon the exact position of the bone conduction hearing implant (BCHI) abutment.
The ENT liaison nurse will meet you and your child at least two weeks before each operation and on the day your child goes into hospital. They’ll give you the information you need and offer support to you, your child and your family at each stage of the surgery.
When your child goes into hospital for the surgery, the ENT liaison nurse will be there to support you. If you or your child have any concerns about the surgery or anaesthetic, talk to the ENT liaison nurse.
The number of surgeries your child will have depends on the device they’re having implanted, as well their age.
In children, the surgery for bone anchored hearing aids (BAHA) is carried out in two stages and will involve two operations. The second operation will be carried out several months after the first so that new bone can form around the implanted fixture. New bone formation around the fixture is known as ‘osseointegration’.
In children having other bone conduction hearing implants (which don’t involve an abutment) and young people having bone anchored hearing aids (BAHA) the surgery is more likely to be done in one operation. Your ENT consultant will talk this through with you.
What happens after the surgery?
After the surgery and before you leave the hospital, you should be given a date for your child’s second operation (if appropriate). All team members, your child’s GP, local services and so on should also be given information by the auditory implant service.
The ENT liaison nurse should contact you within five days of the first surgery to answer any questions or concerns you may have. About seven to ten days after the second operation, the ENT liaison nurse will remove the dressings and any stitches (if necessary).
You will receive clear instructions for looking after the wound and the abutment (if you have one). It’s essential that your child keeps the site where the abutment was implanted clean, as this will prevent skin infections. The ENT liaison nurse will give you a soft cleaning brush for the area and guidance on how to use it. You will also be given:
- a phone number to contact the ENT liaison nurse, audiologist, or coordinator in case of any problems
- details of how to contact an audiological or ENT specialist who has an understanding of the BCHI process in case your child experiences any complications (such as an infection of the surgery site).