A Loyola University Health System study has
found that this system of conducting sound
through skull bone is a big boost to people
who are deaf in one ear and can’t be helped
by hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Sixty Loyola patients were asked to compare
their hearing before and after getting the
system, called Baha.
Their ability to hear in a quiet environment
improved by 28 percent, the trouble they had
with background noise decreased by 33
percent and the difficulties they
experienced with reverberating sounds in
such settings as churches and lecture halls
was reduced by 29 percent.
The only downside: there was a 7 percent
increase in the annoyance caused by loud
sounds such as fire truck sirens.
“People are hearing much better,” said V.
Suzanne Jeter, an audiologist at Loyola
Oakbrook Terrace Medical Center.
Jeter presented the study at the 10th
International Conference on Cochlear
Implants and Other Implantable Auditory
Technologies in San Diego.
Each year, more than 60,000 people in the
United States become deaf in one ear due to
such causes as chronic ear infections,
congenital conditions, inner ear disease,
injuries or tumors.
McGinn, a retired accountant, lost hearing
on his right side due to an acoustic neuroma,
a benign tumor in the inner ear. At the
dinner table, he struggled to hear what
people to his right were saying. And when
driving his car, he couldn’t hear the
A Loyola surgeon implanted a small titanium
post in McGinn’s skull, behind his right
ear. The sound processor clips on to this
The battery-operated processor is roughly
the size of an adult thumb, from the tip to
the first knuckle. A microphone picks up
sound waves, and a computer chip converts
the sound waves into electrical signals that
vibrate the skull.
These tiny vibrations, which McGinn can’t
feel, travel to the inner portion of his
left ear, where they are detected as sound.
McGinn removes the sound processor when
showering or sleeping.
“It’s a dramatic difference,” McGinn said.
“I’m getting conversation from around the
table now, not just from the left side.”
Since 2004, Loyola doctors have put the
device in 130 patients. The total cost per
patient ranges from $10,000 to $15,000.
Medicare and most insurance plans cover it,
Jeter’s study is the largest of its kind on
the device. Jeter said she receives no
funding from Cochlear Americas, which makes
To schedule an appointment with a Loyola
physician, call 888-LUHS-888.