Penn Otorhinolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery

Penn Center for Implantable Hearing Devices

Penn's Center for Implantable Hearing Devices offers patients cochlear implants.

As part of the Penn Department of Otorhinolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, we are the leading center in the Philadelphia area for cochlear implantation. We started more than 25 years ago with the arrival of the first implant devices. Today, we have a comprehensive, active cochlear implantation program, including state-of-the-art surgical placement of the device.

What Is a Cochlear Implant?

Cochlear implants can restore hearing to most patients who have suffered a severe-to-profound hearing loss in both ears.

Following an evaluation, an internal electrode is surgically placed in the inner ear and stabilized under the skin. An external sound processor worn behind the ear transmits sound to the electrode via a magnetic link. The electrode then stimulates the fibers of the auditory (hearing) nerve, which in turn transmits sound to the brain.

Treating Hearing Loss with Cochlear Implants

The continuous improvement in cochlear implant technology and a commitment to the latest research and technical advancements has enabled specialists at Penn to offer an alternative to patients with severe-to-profound hearing loss who no longer benefit from a hearing aid.

Cochlear implant surgery is safe and simple, and its benefits are well established. Following the procedure, most patients are able to better communicate and be more independent. Some patients may even regain the ability to enjoy music.

To determine if you are a candidate for cochlear implant surgery, we conduct an evaluation consisting of a series of detailed hearing tests, a CT and/or MRI scan of the inner ear and a detailed consultation session with an implant audiologist and an implant surgeon. We also do an audiogram, a partial balance study and an evaluation of your communication.

Bone Anchored Hearing Aids (BAHA)

A bone anchored hearing aid (BAHA) is a surgically implantable hearing system that improves hearing by conducting sound through the bone to a functioning inner ear. We currently offer both the cochlear BAHA Connect and Attract systems. The Connect system consists of a small titanium implant and abutment that is surgically placed into the bone behind the impaired ear. The Attract system consists of an external magnet, a titanium implant and an internal magnet that are surgically placed under the skin behind the impaired ear. After the implant becomes stable in the bone, an external sound processor is connected to either the abutment or external magnet. Sound then travels into the skull through vibrations, stimulating the inner ear and allowing for improved hearing.

What is a Hybrid Cochlear Implant?

The hybrid cochlear implant is a single device which combines a hearing aid and a cochlear implant. The device is designed for patients that don't benefit from traditional hearing aids but also have too much residual hearing to meet the candidacy criteria for a traditional cochlear implant. Patients who may benefit from a hybrid implant are those with a precipitously sloping hearing loss (minimal low frequency impairment with severe mid to high frequency impairment). The patient's residual low frequency hearing loss is improved with a hearing aid while the severe to profound loss in the higher frequencies is improved with cochlear implant technology.

Center for Implantable Hearing Devices Physicians & Audiologists

Otorhinolaryngologists at Penn were one of the first teams in North America to perform cochlear implant surgery in the 1980s, and we continue to be involved with all major research efforts in this field. Penn has the only regional program in Philadelphia conducting research and clinical trials, giving patients access to the latest technologies and advancements.

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