The Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA) is fast emerging as the perfect treatment for patients suffering from single side deafness in India, doctors said.
The device not only helps an individual get back his hearing power which gets affected by several health complications like infections, brain tumors and traumas, but its biggest advantage is that it gives the potential candidate the chance to try out the device using a test rod or headband before actually going through surgery.
According to recent surveys, India currently records approximately 200,000 new cases of single side deafness every year.
"BAHA is the perfect solution for single side deafness. It comprises a small titanium fixture and abutment that is implanted by a simple surgical procedure performed under local anaesthetic on the bone just behind the affected ear of a patient," said eminent Ear-Nose-Throat (ENT) specialist and cochlear implant surgeon Shomeshwar Singh in a statement.
"A special sound processor that comes with the implant is then simply clicked onto this titanium abutment when the patient wants to use the BAHA. The sound processor picks up sounds coming from the patients' deaf side and then transmits these to the patients working inner ear. This simple but ingenious arrangement restores hearing on the deaf side of the SSD patients very effectively," Shomeshwar Singh added.
He runs a clinic named "The ENT clinic" in Delhi.
Singh said that though the technology is quite common in western nations, India is yet to adopt it.
Singh who has been performing the BAHA procedures for a few years now said that across the world there are about 40,000 BAHA recipients till today.
Brijesh Khanna, a senior ENT surgeon at the Bengaluru-based health-care, said that BAHA surgery is relatively straightforward and totally safe.
"There are very few problems that one needs to worry about. The main discussion is wound healing after surgery. After implantation of the titanium fixture, the same is allowed to heal for 3 months in adults and 6 months in children before the hearing aid is used on a regular basis. During this period, one has to be careful about infection and wound healing like in any other surgical procedure," he said in a statement.
He also said that after the implantation, the site needs to be kept clean using a soft brush regularly.
Sheetal Barooah, a senior consultant from the Chennai-based Woodland Hospital, said BAHA is the only safe and effective option in children born with ear deformities such as microtia/anotia.
"BAHA is also the alternative for the people who struggle to use conventional hearing aids as they lead to ear discharge, and collection of debris and wax in the operated ears. It is also very useful in people with damaged eardrums or a common cause of deafness in adults called otosclerosis," she said.
Speaking about the cost, she said that BAHA surgery costs a total of about Rs.2.5 lakh, which may come down after the treatment becomes common in the country.