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Implantable Hearing Aids

Implantable Hearing Aids

One of the new hearing aid technologies is the implantable aid. This section contains general information about implantable aids, how they work, their advantages and disadvantages, etc.

April 2000 – For a quick overview of several of the current implantable hearing aid prototypes, see the Implantable Hearing Aid Revue.

June 2000 – The University of Washington is working with a somewhat different

July 2002 – From the Sunday Plenary Session of the 2002 SHHH Convention, here’s Dr. George Gates discussing implantable hearing aids.

January 2003 – What’s the latest in implantable hearing aids? It may be that nanotechnology will soon be applied to make better and smaller implantable hearing aids.

December 2005 – Cochlear Working on Implantable Hearing Aid

December 2005 – University of Oklahoma Scientist Working on Implantable Aid

January 2006 – Interested in seeing what’s involved in surgery to implant the BAHA hearing aid? Here’s a set of slides that display the process. But be forewarned that some of the images are pretty graphic!

April 2006 – OU prof works on implantable hearing aid

April 2006 – Totally Implantable Hearing Aid in Trials

May 2006 – New device could help people with hearing problems

September 2006 – Otologics Announces a Clinical Research Study for a New Fully Implantable Hearing Device

September 2006 – Carina(TM) Fully Implantable Hearing Device to be Demonstrated

September 2006 – Here’s Bob MacPherson with his take on the two implantable aids currently in clinical trials.

December 2006 – Envoy Implantable Hearing Aid Trials Underway

March 2007 – Soundbridge(r) Middle Ear Implant Now Commercially Available from MED-EL

March 2007 – EaglePicher Announces World’s Smallest Implantable Medical Battery

April 2007 – Otologics’ Carina implantable hearing aid in trials

August 2007 – Is an Implantable Hearing Aid for You?

September 2007 – Implantable Hearing Aid in Trials

November 2007 – The Otologics Fully Implantable Hearing System

December 2007 – A fully implantable hearing aid is showing promise.

January 2008 – First Implantation in Soundbridge Clinical Trial for Conductive/Mixed Losses

May 2008 – Vibrant Soundbridge Comes to Israel

June 2008 – UNC Hospitals performs second U.S. implant of Vibrant Soundbridge(r) (VSB)

July 2008 – California Clinic Testing Otologics Implantable Hearing Aid

August 2008 – The future of implantable hearing devices

September 2008 – The Otologics fully implantable hearing aid

March 2009 – Implantable Hearing Aids Have Arrived!

December 2009 – Otologics Offers Carina Implantable Hearing System

December 2009 – FDA Panel to Consider First Fully-Implantable Hearing Aid

December 2009 – Esteem Totally Implantable Hearing Device Under Consideration for Approval in US

December 2009 – Implantable Hearing Aid Gets Nod from FDA Panel

March 2010 – FDA Approves First Fully Implantable Hearing Device

August 2010 – MED-EL Receives FDA Approval for Amadé Audio Processor

October 2010 – Rush Limbaugh powers Envoy Medical to new fame, investors

November 2010 – Esteem Hearing System

February 2011 – UK’s First Totally Implantable Hearing Aid Fitted

March 2011 – Implantable Bone Conduction Hearing Aids

March 2011 – Invisible Extended Wear Hearing Aids

March 2011 – Middle-Ear Implants and Osseointegrated Implants

April 2011 – Researcher Develops Inexpensive Implantable Hearing Aid

June 2011 – FDA OKs Sophono’s Implantable Bone Conduction Hearing Device

October 2011 – Esteem(r) Recipient’s Touching Video Viewed by Over 4 Million on YouTube

October 2011 – The Deaf Hearing Again? With a Middle Ear Implant? Is it Possible?

October 2011 – Viral hearing aid video sends Envoy inquiries up 150 percent

More on this and related topics

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Implantable Hearing Aid Revue

April 2000

Editor: We recently published information about a fully implantable hearing aid called the TICA. It was developed in Germany and was implanted into the first recipient in December 1999. There are several other companies working on similar technology.

Thanks to the Northern Virginia Resource Center for this information.

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This kind of implant, referred to by the acronym IHA, now in the final stages of research and development, can be used by people having sensorineural hearing loss but a healthy middle ear. IHA’s convert sound to vibrations inside the middle ear. This gives IHA’s several advantages over traditional hearing aids. First, if the bones of the middle ear can be directly moved, sound quality may be improved, along with much less feedback. Second, there are no external components to the IHA, which is completely implantable.

At least three prototypes are being tested in human trials. Either the receiver, which collects sound energy, or the entire hearing device is surgically inserted into the middle ear. The surgical procedure is described generally as follows: Skin and tissues around the ear are laid back, and a magnet (which may or may not include electronics) is nestled into the bone behind the ear. A component is then attached to one of the middle ear bones.

One prototype is called the Envoy Totally Implantable Hearing Restoration System. This device uses the person’s eardrum as the microphone that sends sound energy to the piezoelectric crystal in the middle ear.

Two other prototypes use electromagnetic technology. The Vibrant Soundbridge (made by Symphonix Devices, Inc.), has already received an Investigational Device Exemption from the FDA. (IDE is a preliminary stage in receiving FDA approval.) Otologies is also in the IDE state of the FDA process. Both these systems are partially implantable; only the receiver, consisting of the magnet and transducing coil, is implanted. The microphone and amplifier are worn externally like a BTE processor. These devices may be more suitable for a wider range of hearing losses than the one using piezoelectric technology, which can be used by those having no more than a moderate (60 dB) hearing loss.

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January 2003

Nanotechnology May Improve Implantable Hearing Devices

Editor: The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) is a component of the National Institute of Health. They were established in 1988 to “conduct and support biomedical and behavioral research and research training in the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech, and language.” Part of their $350 million budget is used to fund research by American corporations under a program called the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. Here’s a recent press release regarding the use of nanotechnology to improve implantable hearing devices. For more information, please point your browser to http://www.nidcd.nih.gov. (Thanks to bhNEWS for the lead on this story.)

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NIDCD-funded Researchers Look to Nanotechnology to Build Smaller, Mightier Implantable Hearing Device

NIDCD has awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to NanoBioMagnetics Inc. (NBMI), an Oklahoma City, Okla., bioengineering firm, to investigate the use of nanotechnology in developing components for a new generation of implantable hearing devices. Hough Ear Institute (HEI), a nonprofit research, educational, and humanitarian service institute, also of Oklahoma City, will help design and test the new components. Nanotechnology is the branch of science in which materials are manipulated atom by atom and molecule by molecule to create information systems and mechanical devices of exceedingly small size. Implantable hearing devices are an alternative to hearing aids that use externally- and internally-placed electronic components to deliver sound vibrations directly to the bones of the middle ear. The use of nanotechnology for the implantable hearing device could help produce components small enough to fit inside the middle ear but more powerful than today’s devices.

NIDCD’s SBIR program provides funds to businesses to facilitate the research, development, and commercialization of technologies that can assist people who have communication disorders. A similar program, the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, provides funds to businesses that work cooperatively with research institutions to help move useful technologies developed in the laboratory into the marketplace.

OU prof works to aid hearing

 

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Cochlear Working on Implantable Hearing Aid

December 2005

Australia’s Cochlear Corporation has long been known as the world’s leading producer of cochlear implants. But that’s a fairly limited market, with only 17,000 implants performed worldwide last year. Cochlear thinks there is a far larger market for implantable hearing aids (although they don’t like that term), and they’re working with Phonak of Switzerland (one of the leading hearing aid producers) to develop this technology. Full Story

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University of Oklahoma Scientist Working on Implantable Aid

December 2005

A University of Oklahoma associate scientist is working to develop the world’s first hearing aid that would be completely implanted within one’s head. . . . the system is designed to help people with moderate sensory hearing loss, the gradual kind that affects older people and those exposed to loud noise over an extended period of time. The electromagnetic implant drives more force to the inner ear, which allows the cochlea to pick up sound that had been missing.  Full Story

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Totally Implantable Hearing Aid in Trials

 

April 2006

 

An estimated 10-percent of the American population has hearing loss, that’s 30 million people. Experts said only a fraction of that number wear hearing aids. Image, poor sound quality, and expense are three main reasons. The totally implantable hearing aid could change everything. The speech processor is imbedded behind the ear, and then little wires go through the mastoid bone directly to two other bones. The driver wire attaches to stapes. It vibrates the tiny bone and conducts sound into the inner ear. The other sensor wire is a Piezoelectric crystal attached to the bone connected to the eardrum.  Full Story

 

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New device could help people with hearing problems

 

May 2006

 

Millions of people struggle to hear. They find it hard to hear the television, their phone — even their loved one’s voices. Many wear hearing aids, but that’s not always enough. As 7News Anchor Mitch Jelniker reported recently, a new device is being tested in Colorado that could open up a whole new world for people who have difficulty hearing.  Full Story

 

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Otologics Announces a Clinical Research Study for a New Fully Implantable Hearing Device

 

September 2006

 

Editor: Things have been pretty quiet on the implantable hearing aid front for awhile. Now they’re heating up again with this announcement of a clinical research study from Otologics.

 

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Otologics, LLC, a Boulder, Colorado-based developer of hearing devices is currently enrolling patients in a clinical research study for a new fully implantable hearing device.

 

For many people, a hearing aid restricts activities because it has to be removed before participation. It can prevent them from swimming, aerobic activities, or playing tennis, and can interfere with sleeping and showering because of perspiration or other moisture. In short, it can make the simple, enjoyable things in life more difficult.

 

A new investigational, fully implantable hearing device from Otologics is now being evaluated. Unlike traditional hearing aids, this device is surgically implanted under the skin. Nothing is worn in the ear canal and no part of the device is visible externally.

 

Patients 18 years of age or older, with moderate to severe hearing loss, who are currently wearing a hearing aid and who speak English, may be eligible to participate in this clinical research study. The sponsor is covering physician and surgical costs. Participants will be responsible for the cost of the actual hearing device, which is $12,500, as well as personal transportation for clinic visits.

 

Call 1-866-394-7320 for more information about the clinical research study for this investigational, fully implantable hearing device.

 

Otologics, LLC is a Boulder, Colorado-based medical device company, which is dedicated to developing implantable hearing devices designed to enhance the quality of life of the hearing impaired. Otologics, LLC is located at 5445 Airport Blvd Boulder, CO 80301. For more information contact Annemarie Osborne at MediaInquiries@Otologics.com or (949) 916-1147.

 

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Carina(TM) Fully Implantable Hearing Device to be Demonstrated

 

September 2006

 

Editor: Here’s more news on Carina, the fully implantable hearing device (note that they don’t call it a hearing aid) from Otologics. It appears to be interesting and promising technology.

 

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Otologics, a medical device manufacturer based in Boulder, Colorado, is the developer of a revolutionary, fully implantable hearing device for the moderate to severely hearing impaired population.

 

A special course entitled Otologics Implantable Hearing Device will be presented at the European Academy of Neural Otology on Friday, September 22 at 6:30 with a special guest appearance from one of the patients implanted with the Carina device. The device will be presented again on Saturday, September 23rd from 11:15 to 12:00. The company will demonstrate how the device is implanted and how it works. Video footage of an actual implantation will also be shown during the presentations.

 

Carina is not a hearing aid nor a cochlear implant, this revolutionary technology is a fully implantable middle ear prosthesis that completely bypasses the ear canal and eardrum, overcoming the anatomical and physical limitations that prevent conventional therapy from providing maximum hearing functionality.

 

This device has been implanted in patients with severe hearing loss and has significantly improved the quality of life for these individuals. Carina delivers a high fidelity signal directly to the middle ear, providing improved function, comfort and convenience over traditional hearing devices.

 

A hearing aid can restrict activities for many people. It can prevent them from engaging in activities like swimming, aerobics, tennis and even showering, because of perspiration or other moisture. Carina is designed to help people enjoy their favorite activities without any lifestyle restrictions.

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Envoy Implantable Hearing Aid Trials Underway

December 2006

The new device consists of a small sound processor that contains batteries and has two wires attached. Surgeons insert the processor — about the size of a baby’s hand — beneath the skin behind the ear. Both wires are threaded through skull bone to the middle ear, which is behind the eardrum. The wire that senses sound vibrations entering the ear is attached to the anvil, or the middle ear bone. The vibrations are transformed into electrical signals and sent to the processor, which refines the sound and sends it along the other wire to the stirrup — the ear bone closest to the cochlea — which the brain uses to interpret sound. The device is for people with mild to severe hearing loss who are not comfortable with external hearing aids. It does not work on people who are deaf and is not for children.  Full Story

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Otologics’ Carina implantable hearing aid in trials

Otologics’ Carina systems, which are implanted under the skin, will be priced between $12,000 and $15,000 each when they reach the American market in 2009. Implant surgery costs an additional $4,000 to $8,000 per system. According to Bedoya, the Carina system offers convenience, comfort, cosmetics and better sound quality than traditional hearing aids. The implanted portion of the Carina is a capsule containing a microphone, a digital signal processor and a rechargeable battery with a projected 20-year life. There is no external indication of its presence, a significant advantage for those who believe that evidence of a hearing impairment will detract from their image or professional effectiveness. Full Story

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Is an Implantable Hearing Aid for You?

August 2007

Hearing aids help millions of people, but many resist them because  they think wearing one carries a social stigma. Hearing aids also  have serious lifestyle limitations: the hearing impaired can’t wear  them while showering or swimming, and most models are hard to wear  while sleeping. Now, a new kind of hearing aid that aims to overcome  these problems is in clinical trials. It’s invisible and waterproof  because all of its circuitry–including its battery and microphone– is in the user’s head. Developed by Otologics, of Boulder, CO, the device picks up sound  with a microphone implanted underneath the skin behind the user’s  ear. The signal is processed by electronics and sent to a tiny  vibrating piston implanted against the small bones in the middle ear.  The bones transmit the vibrations to the inner ear, which encodes  them as nerve impulses and sends the information to the brain.  Full Story

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The Otologics Fully Implantable Hearing System

November 2007

In the past 10 years, improvements in hearing devices have substantially helped feedback control, widening the frequency range, and, to some degree, sound quality; however, patients still experience the stigma and practical problems of using these devices. Recognizing that stigma and sound quality will always be issues for those that use traditional hearing instruments, research has pursued a quest to find an efficient, practical method of middle ear implantation that would counteract many of the difficulties of hearing aid use.  [Ed. This is a great, comprehensive article!]  Full Story

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A fully implantable hearing aid is showing promise.

December 2007

A hearing aid is a straightforward device. Its microphone collects sound, its electronics amplify it, its tiny loudspeaker sends the sound into a tube placed in the ear canal, and the power comes from a disposable battery. There’s just one problem: people hate hearing aids. They get lost. They’re hard to wear while sleeping. They mustn’t get wet. They get chewed up by the dog. They’re awkward during sex.  . . . . So far, no one’s built a fully implantable cochlear implant. But two fully implantable hearing aids are now in clinical trials (that is to say, they are considered investigational by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are not yet approved for commercial sale). One, the Esteem, is built by Envoy Medical of St. Paul, MN. The other, from Otologics of Boulder, CO, is called the Carina. Hopes are high that they will be the first successful devices of their kind. Making such things is a challenge. Where does the microphone go? How is the amplified sound sent into the ear? What’s the power source? And how can it be kept in the body without leaking? Full Story

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First Implantation in Soundbridge Clinical Trial for Conductive/Mixed Losses

Editor: We’ve been hearing about the Vibrant Soundbridge implantable hearing aid for a few years now, and it looks like it’s ready for prime time. Here’s the press release about the first implantation!

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January 2008

MED-EL Corporation announced today the first US implantation in the clinical trial of the Vibrant Soundbridge® (VSB) as a treatment for conductive and mixed hearing loss using direct round window cochlear stimulation. The Vibrant Soundbridge is the first US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved implantable middle-ear hearing device to treat sensorineural hearing loss.   Adults with conductive or mixed hearing loss who have been unsuccessful with traditional amplification may be candidates for the trial.

Today is the first day that the clinical trial opened in the United States.  The implantation was performed by Jennifer Maw, MD, founder of Ear and Rehabilitative Services (EARS) Inc in San Jose, Calif.

“I am extremely enthusiastic about this new study,” says Dr. Maw. “This procedure has the potential to revolutionize how ear surgeons treat chronic ear disease and hearing loss. Eustachian tube dysfunction limits the hearing results that patients can achieve with reconstructive ear surgery, and there are no well-established treatments for this problem. As this device can mimic the function of the middle ear, we can potentially help a large category of patients who could not be previously considered as suitable surgical candidates.”

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Vibrant Soundbridge Comes to Israel

May 2008

THE IDEA of putting a vibrator on one of little bones in the middle ear began in Japan over 30 years ago. The semi-implanted hearing aid was finally invented by a man named Geoff Ball, who had hearing problems himself. Med-El purchased rights to the invention, and has been manufacturing it for 10 years, since the first one was implanted. Although part of it is inside the head, it is not a cochlear implant – a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf. The cochlear implant is often referred to as a “bionic ear” that – unlike hearing aids – does not amplify sound. Instead, this implant, used by many hundreds of Israeli children and now adults as well, works by electrically stimulating any functioning auditory nerves inside the cochlea. On the exterior of the head are a microphone, speech processor and transmitter that enable the wearer to adjust the sound for quality and amplification.   Full Story

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California Clinic Testing Otologics Implantable Hearing Aid

July 2008

A surgically implanted hearing aid that stays under your skin is being put to the test in the Bay Area. It could drastically change the way the hearing impaired lead their lives. A new, invisible hearing aid being tested in the Bay Area could soon change thousands of lives. David Steele is an avid swimmer and kayaker. But there’s something he can never forget when he hits the water — taking out his hearing aids. “If my hearing aids get wet, that’s it, they’re dead and can’t be fixed,” said Steele. He says just the threat from his own sweat forces him into a world of silence, during long runs with his fiance. “Here I am, I am engaged to this wonderful woman and if we go swimming, kayaking or running, I want to talk to her,” said Steele. But now, a clinical trial going on at the California Ear Institute in East Palo Alto is attempting to break down that sound barrier for hearing impaired athletes.  Full Story

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The future of implantable hearing devices

August 2008

The last decade has seen astonishing advances in the technology of hearing aids. A comparable degree of technological innovation is now taking place in a related field: implantable devices. In this context, an implantable hearing device is any instrument that is entirely or partially implanted in the temporal bone or the middle ear. Partially implanted devices include the boneanchored hearing aid or Baha®, in which the vibratory “receiver” is implanted in the temporal bone, just behind the pinna. The Baha is especially useful for conductive and most mixed hearing losses. There is also a range of middle ear implants in which the “receiver” transducer is implanted on the ossicular chain. The greatest change is taking place among fully implanted devices. Historically, these were restricted to piezo-electric devices that used a very small transducer. However, in the near future we will see electro-magnetic devices that offer the benefits of being completely in the ear.  Full Story

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The Otologics fully implantable system

September 2008

The Otologics MET Fully Implantable Ossicular Stimulator (Figure 1) consists of three primary components: the implant (Figure 2A), the remote control (Figure 2B), and the charger (Figure 2 C/D). The implant component of the system acts in conjunction with a charger and remote control. It consists of a signal processing electronics capsule, a pendant microphone system, the internal battery, and an electromechanical transducer. Specifically, the electronics package comprises two digital signal processors, control circuitry, battery, radio frequency coil, and a magnet.  Full Story

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Implantable Hearing Aids Have Arrived!

March 2009

On Friday, a fully implantable hearing device is scheduled to be surgically  inserted into a patient’s ear in an operation at St. Luke’s. It’s believed to  be the first operation of its kind in the St. Louis area. The device includes a microphone, battery, processor and magnet that are  implanted under the skin behind the ear. The microphone picks up sound, which  is processed and sent to a mechanism that causes the bones in the middle ear to  vibrate. The vibrations reach the inner ear which sends the information to the  brain.  Remote controls held next to the head can control volume and charge the  battery, which can last for 36 to 72 hours at a stretch.  The implant, from Boulder, Colo.-based Otologics, is intended for people with moderate to severe hearing loss. Full Story

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FDA Panel to Consider First Fully-Implantable Hearing Aid

December 2009

An panel of ear, nose, and throat experts will consider on Friday whether to recommend FDA approval of the first fully-implantable hearing aid for patients with mild to severe hearing loss. In a company-sponsored trial, all patients had improved hearing after implantation with the Esteem hearing system, made by Envoy Medical Corp. of St. Paul, Minn. But concerns have been raised about lingering adverse affects, including sense of taste disturbances. Esteem is fully-implantable in the middle ear, unlike other hearing aids, which are only partially implantable. According to the company, Esteem works by replicating the ossicular chain — a group of three small bones known as the hammer, anvil, and stirrup — which amplify sound vibrations that enter the middle ear.  Full Story

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Esteem Totally Implantable Hearing Device Under Consideration for Approval in US

December 2009

Today at the Ear, Nose, and Throat Advisory Committee of the FDA a meeting is under way to consider whether to recommend approval of Envoy Medical’s (St. Paul, Minn) fully implantable hearing aid. The Esteem device uses a piezoelectric sensor to monitor the eardrum and convert the signal into digital for processing. The processed information is then converted back into physical vibrations and applied to the stapes capitulum. MedPage Today is reporting that in a recent clinical trial the device improved the hearing of a good number of subjects, but almost half experienced some sort of adverse effects such as taste disturbance and facial palsy.  Full Story

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Implantable Hearing Aid Gets Nod from FDA Panel

December 2009

A FDA advisory panel has unanimously recommended that the agency approve the first fully-implantable hearing aid for patients with moderate to severe hearing loss. By a 15-0 vote, the Ear, Nose, and Throat Advisory Committee decided Friday that despite concerns about lingering adverse effects — including sense of taste disturbances that can last longer than a year — the Esteem hearing system, improves hearing better than partially-implanted hearing aids. Esteem is fully-implantable in the middle ear, unlike other hearing aids, which are only partially implantable. The agency does not have to take the advice of its scientific panels but usually does. In a company-sponsored trial, all patients had improved hearing after implantation with the Esteem hearing system, which is made by Envoy Medical Corp. of St. Paul, Minn. [snip] Also of concern, 26 of the 57 patients continued to experience adverse events beyond one year after surgery, including taste disturbance and facial palsy. Because of that risk, the panel recommended the device’s label indicate the risk for facial nerve injury, taste disturbance, and a statement that some patients are more satisfied with their hearing aids.  Full Story

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Rush Limbaugh powers Envoy Medical to new fame, investors

October 2010

Thanks in large part to Limbaugh’s plug on his popular radio show, Envoy, based in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, recently raised another $16.4 million, including $10 million from hearing aid powerhouse Starkey Laboratories Inc. The latest financing round, which closed at the end of September, takes Envoy’s total take to $140 million. In addition, Limbaugh’s s millions of listeners have flooded Envoy’s website and phone lines, prompting the startup to hire more sales staff. “It’s been off the charts,” CEO Patrick Spearman told MedCity News. Limbaugh “is worth every penny.” Not that Envoy necessarily needed more buzz. Since the Food and Drug Administration approved its Esteem system, the first fully implantable device to treat hearing loss in the United States, the company has been busy.  Full Story

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Esteem Hearing System

November 2010

This past summer, CBS 2HD reported on a remarkable new hearing aid that’s helping hearing-impaired people hear in a much more natural way. A young woman with severe hearing loss saw our story and decided to find out more about the newly approved implant. As Dr. Max Gomez reports, there’s something about her story that makes her very unique. Lori Frisher had already had a cochlear implant in one ear trying to restore her failing hearing, but then her other ear was also getting worse and conventional hearing aids wern’t working. So Lori became the first to have two different implantable hearing-assist devices.   Full Story

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UK’s First Totally Implantable Hearing Aid Fitted

February 2010

A woman has received the UK’s first totally implanted hearing aid. The Otologics “Carina” middle ear implant device consists of a rechargeable battery, a signal processor and a microphone which are all implanted under the skin. These are connected to a tiny electromagnetic vibrator which is positioned inside the mastoid bone behind the ear and attaches to the hearing bones. There is nothing on the outside of the head and the ear canal is left open. Denise Westgate, 49, from Havant in Hampshire received the aid thanks to work from the South of England Cochlear Implant Centre (SOECIC), based at the University of Southampton. In past aids, the microphone and battery were on the outside of the patient, held in place over the implanted part of the device by a magnet. This was prone to being knocked off or damaged or getting wet. When the external part was removed at night or in the shower, the patient could no longer hear.  Full Story

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Implantable Bone Conduction Hearing Aids

March 2011

Three decades after the introduction of the first bone-anchored hearing aids, the available systems have improved significantly and the field is expanding faster than ever. New technologies such as digital signal processing have opened new avenues unique to bone conduction hearing aids. Better insights into the physiology of bone-conducted hearing have not only changed the field but also provided ideas for new areas of application. In this volume of Advances in Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, renowned researchers and experienced clinicians from all over the world present the latest findings and practices. Reviews on the theoretical background of bone conduction hearing, presentation of currently available hearing aid systems, chapters on monaural and binaural hearing with implantable bone conduction hearing aids, a comparison with conventional hearing aids and a glimpse into the future of implantable bone conduction hearing aids render this volume an invaluable reference book to ENT surgeons, audiologists, hearing aid acousticians and researchers alike.  Full Story

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Middle-Ear Implants and Osseointegrated Implants

by Soli D. Sigfrid

March 2011

These implants can be further subdivided. In one subcategory are middle-ear implants for sensorineural hearing loss, which use different designs and differ primarily in the means by which they deliver vibratory mechanical energy to the ossicular chain. However, they all impart mechanical energy to the cochlea at the round window via motion of the stapes (e.g., Fredrickson et al., 1995). The external portion of these devices is similar to a cochlear implant (CI), consisting of a microphone, speech processor, and radio frequency (RF) transmitter. The implanted portion consists of an RF receiver, electronic components, and a mechanical vibrator.  Full Story

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Researcher Develops Inexpensive Implantable Hearing Aid

April 2011

But now Oklahoma researcher Rong Gan has developed a hearing device that . . .  is invisible because it is totally implanted. The device is designed for people with moderate to severe hearing loss, and especially for elderly people, whose tiny sound-sensitive hairs inside the ear have withered away. Nearly half of those 75 and older have hearing loss. “Generally all people wearing hearing aids can benefit from this,” Gan said. “There is nothing in the ear canal. Everything is under the skin.”   Full Story

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The Deaf Hearing Again? With a Middle Ear Implant? Is it Possible?

October 2011

As a group of audiologists we felt that it was impossible for a “deaf” person and some with mto derive that much benefit from this device. Allowing for the “direct drive” effects of implantable middle ear devices, the benefits of a natural signal sent to the eardrum with appropriate resonance, and allowing for the possibility that the patient was inadequately aided prior to the implant; this patient still seems to have had an overreaction to the activation of the device. A “deaf” person would not be able to hear that well with this device, if she really had a 90 dB+ hearing loss prior to the implant. Although the video offers some hope to those with hearing losses that can be fit with implantable middle ear hearing devices, it also presents some implications that border on ethical advertising, especially to the US market. As this video went viral over the weekend the consumer blog at HHTM has had inquiries from totally deaf individuals as to how they can obtain the same device, hopefully to receive the same benefit as presented in the video (Hannan, 2011). When the truly deaf try this device and are unsuccessful it will add “fuel to the fire” for discussions regarding the under delivery of benefit from amplification and the arguments of further “medicalization” of the “deaf by the deaf community.  Full Story

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Viral hearing aid video sends Envoy inquiries up 150 percent

October 2011

Sixteen days ago 29-year-old Sarah Churman posted a video of herself hearing her voice loud and clear for the first time after being implanted with Envoy Medical’s Esteem device. The video went viral, sales have spiked and Churman and Envoy have shared the spotlight on The Today Show, Ellen DeGeneres, Fox and Friends, and CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, among others. The story was also covered on 150 local television stations, and the media attention keeps coming: MSNBC will be doing a story at Churman’s house. Envoy already spends around $8 million to $10 million a year on radio advertising with announcers including Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Michael Savage. Company CEO Patrick Spearman said as a result of the video big-name celebrities have approached Envoy about getting the device. Spearman thinks that development could lead to television appearances as well as television advertising.  Full Story

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