A new study suggests that bone-anchored hearing aids help youth with single-sided deafness.
The study has appeared in the February issue of Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
Single-sided deafness, also known as profound unilateral sensorineural hearing loss, is often associated with poor performance in school, learning difficulties and behavioural problems, often attributed to the children's inability to perform well in noisy conditions.
Traditional, external hearing aids may improve comprehension and performance, but compliance is typically low, especially outside the classroom.
The authors write: "Thus, treatment options for profound unilateral sensorineural hearing loss in children are limited, thereby creating a source of frustration and a need for alternative treatments."
Lisa Christensen, Au.D., of Arkansas Children's Hospital, Little Rock, and colleagues say: "In an effort to provide a durable treatment option, the bone-anchored hearing aid has been explored for use in children with single-sided deafness."
The researchers analysed the charts of 23 children and teens (age range 6 to 19, average age 12.6) with single-sided deafness who received bone-anchored hearing aids over a three-year period. Each surgery was performed in two stages with at least six months in between and patients were fitted with one of two types of bone-anchored hearing aid processors two weeks after the second stage. Hearing tests were conducted and each patient and a parent or guardian were asked to complete a questionnaire about listening difficulties before and after the fitting.
Scores on both hearing tests and questionnaires improved significantly following surgery. Both children (seven patients younger than 13) and teens (16 patients) showed improvements in hearing. The complication rate was 17 percent, with complications being more common in teenagers and including skin reactions and lost fixtures.
The authors write: "In conclusion, the treatment of children and teenagers with profound unilateral sensorineural hearing loss has been frustrating owing to the known disability associated with this condition and to a lack of acceptance and benefit of traditional amplification techniques."
They conclude: "These findings are helpful in counseling children 5 years and older and their families regarding treatment options for single-sided deafness."