Treating hearing loss after acoustic neuroma removal

QuestionI had an acoustic neuroma removed in 2002. The tumor was also involved with my facial nerve. While removing the tumor mass they had to take out the hammer, anvil and stirrup.

Will a Baha work in my situation? // Kevin

Answer: Hi Kevin, thanks for your question.

Removing an acoustic neuroma can lead to single-sided deafness (SSD). The Baha System uses the body’s natural ability to transfer sound.  Instead of trying to push sound through the damaged area in the outer or middle ear, it reroutes the sound directly through bone, from the damaged ear to the working inner ear on the other side. This makes it easier to understand speech in noisy situations and reduces the attenuation of sounds from the deaf side So the bone conduction implant actually sends the sound through your skull bone instead of via air.

For instance, if you scratch your head you can hear it, right? The same with bone conduction. You just hear the sound in a different way.

We have several stories from people with SSD who benefit greatly from the Baha System, such as Tim and Victor, using the Baha Attract and Connect systems respectively. Discuss with your health care professional what option would be best for you.

Another good thing is that you can always try the system before you decide to get it. Your hearing care professional can fit a Baha Sound Processor to a Softband or a testband on your head. This gives a good idea of the benefit.

Good luck!

//The Baha Blog team

Read also: When is Baha System right for me?

Acoustic Neuroma doesn’t stop Victor from hearing

Baha-5-user-Victor

Imagine if you suddenly lost three of your five senses! This was a reality for Victor Makoski, USA.

Removing an acoustic neuroma in 2007 left Victor totally deaf on his left side. He also lost his sense of smell and taste, but considers himself fortunate to not have been facially paralysed. Thanks to the advanced medical technologies of today, at least one of his senses could be restored.

As he waited to be fitted with his sound processor, Victor found it a struggle not being able to hear. He was constantly tired, trying to make sense of the muffled sounds he couldn’t interpret. Gradually he withdrew from conversations and social activities. He would get frustrated because he couldn’t understand what was being said and had to ask his wife to repeat others.

Getting his Baha sound processor was a relief.

“When they turned it on I noticed it was different than natural hearing”, Victor recalls. “But I heard – that was the most important thing! And over time, the sound became normal to me. Soon, I even forgot what hearing without the Baha sound processor was like.”

Having the Baha System has greatly enhanced his quality of life.

“I am able to function better in conferences, meetings and social settings. As far as recreational activities go, I love to snow ski, water ski, paddle board, kayak, bike, paint and enjoy life. I still do all the activities I love. I love listening to music. I wear my Baha Sound Processor all day. The only time I take it off is around water.”

Victor is a volunteer for Cochlear USA and also involved in the Acoustic Neuroma Association. Talking about the Baha solution is important to him.

“I think people should be aware of the options out there for hearing loss. I am very proud of my Baha System. When people ask what it is, I explain it to them, how it transfers sound from my deaf side to my good ‘hearing’ side. The other day at a doctor’s office I met some folks considering the Baha System. None of them had an acoustic neuroma, but they all had single-sided deafness. I was able to share what it was like to wear and use a Baha System every day. Even when you try bone conduction on a Baha Softband, it’s hard to imagine living with it. When I had the sound processor fitted after surgery, I was amazed by what it could do, that bone conduction was occurring in my head, and I could get a sense of sound back on my deaf side. I think it is a remarkable device, and people who need it should know about this option!”

 

Read more: When is a Baha System right for me?

When is a Baha System right for me?

We often get the question “When would a bone conduction hearing system be right for me?”.

There is of course not one answer, but the most common reason is that a Baha solution will be beneficial to you when hearing aids in or behind the ear no longer work. For instance, for a child born without external ears there’s the possibility to transfer sound via the skull bone instead of the ear canals. Likewise, if you suffer from chronic ear infections that mean you can’t use hearing aids, a solution like a Baha System that keeps your ear canals open may be the recommended solution.

We usually talk about three types of hearing loss where a Baha System could be the right solution for you:

Conductive hearing loss

Problems in the outer and/or middle ear can block or restrict the flow of sound waves, preventing them from getting through effectively to the inner ear. You may be able to understand what’s being said, but only if people speak loud enough and there isn’t too much background noise. Hearing aids may help, but sometimes not enough.

Conductive hearing loss can be caused by (among other things):

  • Ear infection or fluid in the middle ear (otitis media)
  • Otosclerosis – fusing of bones in the middle ear
  • A benign tumour or cholesteatoma, causing damage to the middle ear

Read more: A tumor stole John’s hearing, but the Baha solution opened up a new world of sound

baha-blog-John-Kastanis

Single-sided deafness (SSD)

This is the loss of all, or almost all, hearing in one ear. You may have difficulty in locating sounds or hearing against background noise. SSD is usually caused by sensorineural hearing loss, when the inner ear – or less often, the hearing nerve – isn’t working correctly.

SSD can be caused by:

  • Exposure to very loud noise
  • Acoustic neuroma (a benign tumor on the hearing nerve)
  • Certain drugs or medications

Read more: Actor Mark Ruffalo lost all his hearing in his left ear due to acoustic neuroma

Mixed hearing loss

A mixed loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. This means that there may be damage in the outer or middle ear, and also in the inner ear or hearing nerve.

conductive-sensorineural-hearing-loss

If you or your child has one of the types of hearing loss described above, then a Baha bone conduction implant may be a good solution. A health professional can talk you through the options and help you make the most informed decision. If you don’t already have someone to speak to, use this tool to find a clinic close to you. When considering what to do, the most important thing is to have all the information.

Baha Attract user Tim: “It just doesn’t fall off!”

Tim from Australia lost all of his hearing in his right ear after getting his Acoustic Neuroma removed. He was recently implanted with the magnetic Baha Attract System.

In this short video he describes his experience with the Baha Attract System.

“I was initially concerned about the security of the system. But my experience is that it just doesn’t fall off.”

Now Tim is able to continue his excursions deep into the African bush – and hear the lions roar. (We certainly understand he’s glad that the Baha Attract magnet doesn’t fall off!)

Baha-Attract-magnetBaha-Attract-after-surgery
Tim with and without his Baha sound processor and SP magnet. When he takes it off, the implant site is barely visible, even with Tim’s short hair.
Baha-Attract-System-magneticLoving life: Tim is an active senior citizen who enjoys playing golf and traveling.

Read more about the Baha Attract System here!

Innovative treatment combines removal of Acoustic Neuroma tumour with Baha Attract surgery

In October 2013, ear surgeons from the Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery and Audiology at Rigshospitalet in Denmark performed an innovative operation.

For the first time ever, surgeons combined removing a tumour on the vestibulocochlear nerve  – called acoustic neuroma or vestibular schwannoma – with implanting the new Baha Attract System in the cranial bone behind the ear.

“The magnet-based system is brand new. We are the first hospital in the world to introduce this system in connection with removing tumours,” says Per Caýe-Thomasen, Consultant from the Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery and Audiology.

Tumour removals usually leave the patient with a permanent hearing loss in the affected ear. With the Baha Attract System, sound vibrations are transmitted through the skin to the internal magnet, through the bone to the inner ear on the other side of the head. The sound will then be perceived from both sides and therefore improve hearing considerably.

Located under intact skin, the magnet implant is not visible, which is a great cosmetic advantage. Moreover, as the system is only connected by the use of magnetic attraction, it reduces the risk of infection, inflammation and other skin complications.

“Combining removal of the tumour with implanting the magnet requires only one operation instead of two, and this obviously benefits patients as well as staff considerably,” says Per Caýe-Thomasen.

 

Find a clinic here. Connect with your local Cochlear office in social media here.

What is acoustic neuroma?

Acoustic neuroma, or vestibular schwannoma, is a tumour on the vestibulocochlear nerve.

Actor Mark Ruffalo

Actor Mark Ruffalo

It is usually benign and modern microsurgical techniques generally offer safe and effective removal of the tumour, but the treatment often leads to a profound hearing loss in the affected ear.

Actor Mark Ruffalo, 46, was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma in 2001, which left him partly facially paralyzed for 10 months. He recovered, but lost all of his hearing in his left ear. Here Mark shares his experiences with the tumour diagnosis and treatment.

The actor has learned to cope with his single-sided deafness, but for those who don’t want to, there is help available.

The Baha system can help restore the hearing by sending sound through the bone directly to the functioning inner ear on the other side.

Read more about hearing loss and acoustic neuroma