Video: How the Baha Connect System works

The Baha Connect System is a well-proven bone conduction hearing system. It features Cochlear’s unique minimally invasive DermaLock technology which helps preserves the hair and skin around the abutment, thus improving the aesthetics after surgery. Watch how it works in the video above.

baha-5-blond-sound-processorWatch how fitness instructor Carole’s Baha 5 Sound Processor stays on during her spinning class here.

Read more about the Baha Connect System

What are the benefits of the Baha System?

Question: Thank you very much for responding to me once already, it’s very much appreciated. However; I’d like to find out more about the Baha DermaLock Abutment – would this be appropriate for my situation?

I have so called SUDDEN SENSORINEURAL HEARING LOSS in my left ear and I did all possible treatments from the day that happened, in ear steroids and oral, along with hyperberic oxygen therapy. I am now on day 46 and no hearing has come back. I am at about 90dB profound hearing loss. My major problem is being in places with noises or anywhere that there are people talking at the same time! It sounds muffled and makes it very hard to hear from the good ear also, and that is what makes me uncomfortable more than just hearing from one ear. My ENT suggests the Cros hearing aids but I am not sure…

So my questions are :
A. Can the DermaLock Abutment be good for me?
B. Will the Baha System fix some of this annoying situation in group talking, restaurants etc?
C. Will this Baha System show on the outside on my skin? I would like you to send some pics for me to see .
D. Will it help my tinnitus a bit also?

Finally, can you recommend a specialist in central NJ area that do this surgery?
I appreciate all you can tell me , after all it’s all new to me and I do love life and would very much like to do everything i was doing. I have been isolate from lots of my friends because of the muffleness caused by restaurant noise and people talking or my wife vacuuming the house!
Please help . // Pietro

Answer: Dear Pietro, thanks for reaching out to us.

First, to clarify, we are not able to give medical advice to individuals. Only a hearing care professional can recommend what hearing solution is best for you. I can however try to answer your questions the best I can.

A. A DermaLock Abutment is one way to connect the sound processor to the implant. This type of direct system is called the Baha Connect System. We also have the Baha Attract System. This system uses two magnets, one under the skin and one above, to connect the sound processor to the implant. Your hearing care professional will help you decided which system is best for you. The great thing about a Baha System is that you can try it out before moving forward with surgery by  listening through the sound processor on a Baha Softband. This will give you a good understanding of the benefit you can expect.

B. With a Baha System you can generally relieve the problem from having the muffled experience you describe when someone is talking on your hearing impaired side. The problem you are experiencing is what’s called the “head shadow effect”. This means that high frequency soundwaves coming from your impaired side are “shadowed” by your head and don’t reach your hearing ear. The lower frequency sound waves are better able to reach your hearing ear and this is what causes the muffled sound. With a Baha System on your impaired side the sound is captured and sent as vibrations through the bone directly to your hearing ear, alleviating the problem and making it easier to hear more clearly from both sides.

C. This depends on what system you use. Because the Baha Attract System uses magnets, there is nothing visible when you are not wearing your sound processor. You can find several pictures of Baha Attract users on this blog, such as this one. If you use the Baha Connect System then yes, the small abutment is visible when you are not wearing your sound processor. Recent technology developments have dramatically improved the aesthetics of an abutment system. You can also find pictures of Baha Connect users on this blog, such as this one of Nancy:

baha5-colors-copper

D. Regarding tinnitus relief, this is a question that your hearing care professional will be better suited to answer. I would definitely encourage you to get in contact with a professional to evaluate your situation and reach out to people who have been in your situation.

Cochlear runs events where you can meet with Baha System users and get more information. Here is a link to the event calendar in the US.  If you’d like, we can have your local engagement manager contact you directly. Send us your email details and we’ll have her reach out to you.

Use this tool to find a Baha clinic in your area!

 

~ Fredrik Breitholtz, Head of Training and Clinical Communication, Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions

Proof lies beneath the surface – the DermaLock Abutment

For more than 30 years, titanium implants have been used in bone conduction hearing implant systems. Titanium is a truly remarkable metal with unique properties that make it ideal for human implantation. Its ability to osseointegrate (bond) with bone is the key to making a Baha System work.

Up until a few years ago, the abutment (part of the implant that sticks through the skin) was also made completely with titanium. While ideal for bonding with bone, titanium does not bond with soft tissue (skin and underlying layers). That’s why it used to be common practice to thin the soft tissue around the abutment. This technique worked well and is still performed today in some cases. However, there are many benefits to preserving the soft tissue around the abutment. These include faster surgery time, aesthetics and leaving in place as much of the body’s natural structures as possible to help prevent infections.

If you DON’T thin the soft tissue around a pure titanium abutment, the skin heals down around it instead of bonding with it. This creates a pocket between the abutment and the skin where debris and bacteria can accumulate. It also blocks the immune system from accessing the area, so it’s not able to fight off potential infections to keep the area healthy.

Scientists knew there were benefits from soft tissue preservation but also knew that titanium alone was not the solution. So that’s the challenge that Cochlear set our research and development team – create an abutment that would bond with the surrounding soft tissue.

In 2013 we released the first abutment specifically designed for soft tissue preservation – the Cochlear Baha DermaLock Abutment (BA400). The abutment is still made of titanium, but features a special surface scientifically known as Hydroxyapatite. This is a substance that is found naturally in your body. It’s what allows your teeth to stick out through your skin and remain healthy and bonded to your gums.

Titanium surface on Baha bone conduction implant

Close up view of a smooth titanium surface. Soft tissue does not bond with titanium the same way it does with bone.

DermaLock surface on Cochlear Baha implant

Close up view of the DermaLock surface, proven to promote integration (bonding) with soft tissue.

What is DermaLock

Baha user Randi with the DermaLock Abutment. No need for hair removal or skin thinning around the area

Before we release new technology there is a lot of work and research that goes into making sure our products will improve the lives of the people who rely on a Baha System to hear and be heard everyday. And after new technology is released there are always numerous, long-term, independent clinical studies that take place to evaluate and verify the benefits. By design these studies often take years to complete. This is of course also true for the DermaLock Abutment.

And now the results are in!

Researchers at Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands have presented results that show integration actually happening in real people. They used advanced imaging techniques to study both a DermaLock Abutment and a traditional titanium abutment (used primarily by other companies) and how they react with the surrounding tissue.

They concluded that only the DermaLock Abutment achieved integration with soft tissue. This is a great achievement and proof that Cochlear’s dedication to innovation ensures people with a Baha System have access to the latest technology that helps to make hearing carefree.

“This study shows the importance of not only choosing the right Baha sound processor, but also an abutment technology that is accepted and integrated by the patient’s own tissue,” says Stina Wigren, MSc in Materials Science and biomaterials specialist at Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions. “Cochlear developed this ground breaking technology and is the only bone conduction company in the world that offers this. Strong research evidence underlies our continual improvement and innovative use of technologies.”

titanium surface on Baha abutment

This sample was taken from around a titanium abutment. The dark blue layers resemble the outer layers of skin, clearly showing that no soft tissue has bonded to the abutment.

dermalock surface on Baha abutment

This sample was taken from around a DermaLock abutment. The soft tissue has not hardened and resembles inner, living layers of skin. This indicates a bond with the DermaLock surface.

Read the whole article here.

 

 

Tip of the Week: The DermaLock Abutment

Every Wednesday, Mark Flynn, PhD, Cochlear’s Audiologist and Director of Research and Applications, gives his best Baha tips!

The importance of the abutment

For most people who discover they have a hearing loss and need a bone conduction solution, the main debate is which sound processor to choose. But which abutment you have is of equal importance!

Over the past year or two we here at Cochlear have made a number of key advances with the Baha Connect System. We wanted to see how we could both reduce complications and improve the cosmetic appearance of the surgical site.

In 2012, based on many years of research, we developed the DermaLock Abutment and surgical procedure. The special surface – hydroxyapatite – of the abutment is designed to attach to the soft tissue.

For most people, this means that the surgeon no longer needs to remove soft tissue or hair from the area around the abutment. This will result in a more cosmetically attractive site. The simpler surgery also means less numbness and/or pain around the abutment site.

As the Baha Connect System is such an effective method of sound transfer between the sound processor and the implant, we will continue to develop and advance the system for people who need this efficient transfer.

What it looks like -DermaLock patients after surgery.

What it looks like: DermaLock patients at various stages after surgery.

Always consult your hearing care professional regarding treatment options.

You asked… we answer

Subject: Baha Attract System
Question: What is the healing time between the Baha Attract System and the tradition implant? Another words would you get the processor quicker? Also, is the traditional system more secure than the Attract system?

// Bob

Answer:

Thanks Bob for your question.

The healing times for both the Baha Connect and the Baha Attract Systems are quite short. There have been large advances in healing times due to the development of the Cochlear BI300 implant which improves the speed of osseointegration and stability. Similarly, the Dermalock Abutment used with the Baha Connect System is specifically designed to simplify the surgical approach requiring less soft tissue removal. The exact amount of healing time required is decided by your surgeon.

Both systems have a secure connection to the sound processor. Our data from a multicentre clinical study and the clinical experiences demonstrate very good retention of the Baha Attract System in everyday activities. However, a safety line should always be worn. Some people, who participate in sports have reported that they use a stronger magnet while running for instance.

Mark C. Flynn, PhD Audiologist, Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions

Guest blog: Prof. Stokroos from Maastricht shares his experiences with the DermaLock technology

Prof. Dr. R.J. Stokroos, Otolaryngologist

Prof. Dr. R.J. Stokroos, Otolaryngologist

It is with great pleasure we introduce our first guest blogger of the Baha Blog, Professor Robert Stokroos from Maastricht University Medical Center, the Netherlands. For over 20 years he has been leading research efforts in the field of bone conduction. He is currently leading a pan European evaluation of the improvements provided by the DermaLock technology. In this post Prof. Stokroos presents his team’s experience:

“Percutaneous bone anchored hearing devices have changed hearing possibilities for many patients over the years. Since 1992 as a junior doctor, I was involved in this treatment when Baha surgery was still considered very special.

Since then, things have changed a lot. The Baha has become part of our daily clinical practice. As our clinical experience in Maastricht grew, the downside of having a percutaneous implant became apparent.

From our earlier studies we conclude that, as far as Baha surgey is concerned, less is more.

In other words, when working with the old generation of implants the less skin we reduced, the less scar tissue and the better the patient outcome. This was contradictory to what we previously had learned from our seniors, who taught us the importance of skin reduction and having immobile skin around the abutment. In fact, if there was a problem, we blamed ourselves for not thinning the skin sufficiently.

With the introduction of the new DermaLock technology, we feel skin reduction is now unnecessary. The abutment coating prevents the skin from growing down around the implant, thereby naturally keeping it in place.

The clinical impression has been extremely promising. The new technique in combination with the DermaLock has quickly gained wide global acceptance.

Our job as academics is to confirm all these great developments. A pan European effort has been assembled with centers from France, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands to compare outcomes when using the traditional surgical technique to the latest surgical technique with the DermaLock Abutment.

Our clinical impression is that this is a major step in improving patient outcomes. Soon we will start analysing results. I’ll keep you posted!”

~ Prof. Dr. R.J. Stokroos

Do you have a question for Prof. Stokroos? Let us know in the comments section!

From Dutch Telegraaf: Hearing implant grows together with ear

Cochlear’s unique DermaLock™ technology brings many benefits for Baha patients, such as shorter surgery time and faster healing process.

Here is an article from the biggest newspaper in the Netherlands, De Telegraaf, about the Maastricht UMC DermaLock trial.

A translated extract from the original article (which is in Dutch):

The Baha implant is inserted behind the ear through surgery. Where this procedure was previously very cumbersome and time consuming, it takes the ENT specialist now only a quarter of an hour. Sometimes even under local anesthesia. Unlike the previous generation implants DermaLock technology allows the implant to connect with the skin. Thus, the patient will not suffer from hair loss and the formation of scar tissue.

“This was often a reason for patients to reject the implant,” says otolaryngologist Prof. Robert Stokroos who is leading the research. “We think the new Baha implant can improve and produces a more natural result.”