Hear the Good News: New Device Offers Clearer Sound, Less Discomfort for the Hearing-Impaired
Sep 1, 2000
For the millions of individuals who suffer from hearing loss, a device newly approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the Vibrant Soundbridge, has been shown to eliminate the sounds of silence with minimal discomfort. Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center is one of only two facilities in the New York area to offer the device.
The Vibrant Soundbridge is an implantable middle ear hearing device intended to treat moderate to severe sensorineural hearing loss, the most common form of hearing impairment, which occurs when the hair cells or nerves in the inner ear become damaged. Unlike conventional hearing aids, no part of the hearing device rests in the ear canal. This eliminates many common problems such as occlusion, discomfort, feedback, and ear infections.
The device consists of an audio processor hidden underneath the hair just behind the ear, held in place by a magnet; an internal receiver underneath the hair just behind the ear, held in place by a magnet; an internal receiver underneath the skin of the scalp; and, connected to this receiver by a conductor link, a "floating mass transducer" that stimulates the tiny bones in the middle ear, enhancing the natural hearing process.
"This is an improvement over conventional hearing aids because it does not simply make sounds louder in the ear canal so that they have to be picked up by the ear drum," said Dr. Jose Fayad, assistant professor of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and director of Cochlear Implants and Implantable Hearing Devices at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. "Rather, it sends a signal directly to the middle ear. In clinical trials, including those conducted here at Columbia Presbyterian, persons with moderate to severe hearing problems have found that the device provides better hearing with less discomfort than existing hearing problems have found that the device provides better hearing with less discomfort than existing hearing aids."
Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center uses an outpatient procedure to install the middle ear device. An approach called a "facial recess" is performed under general anesthesia and takes about one and a half hours.
The Vibrant Soundbridge is manufactured by a San Jose, California, company called Symphonix devices.