New middle-ear implant device improves hearing over long termDecember 18, 2020
A novel middle-ear implant device called a Vibrant Soundbridge (VSB) improves word recognition among patients over a longer term, found a study by Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences in Krems.
The study looked at 46 patients who had a VSB that was implanted an average of just over 2.5 years previously – although in one case the individual had had the device for over six years.
“Even after such lengths of time we were still able to measure a clear – and statistically highly significant – improvement in word recognition among the subjects,” says Prof Georg Mathias Sprinzl, head of the Ear, Nose and Throat Department at St. Pölten University Hospital – which is part of KL Krems.
The study also found that the surgical procedure and implantation of a miniature device did not have an adverse impact on the patients’ residual hearing.
This technology converts sound waves into mechanical vibrations which are then passed on to the auditory structures in the middle ear. This process can stimulate different parts of the middle ear. A method adopted in the past few years is based on connecting the VSB with the round window, which joins the inner and middle ear. Several studies have demonstrated the short-term benefits of the operation for patients, but until now, little data has been collected on the question of whether the method is also successful in the long run.
The implant is suitable for people who have problems with sound-wave transmission or suffer mixed hearing loss, but fitting it is a highly complex operation that requires not only high-end devices but also a surgeon with extensive experience and outstanding surgical skills.