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European Premiere for New Type of Hearing Implant in Freiburg

For the first time in Europe, doctors at the Medical Center – University of Freiburg are implanting a new type of bone conduction hearing system / High amplifying power as well as advantages in speech understanding and wearing comfort.

In April 2021, a new type of hearing implant was inserted into a patient for the first time in Europe at the Department of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology at the Medical Center – University of Freiburg. The device uses the bone conduction of the skull and thus bypasses damaged or blocked parts of the ear by transmitting the vibrations directly to the inner ear. Unlike in many previous devices, there is no open connection to the bone through the skin. This potentially reduces the risk of infection, while at the same time the hearing system has high amplification power. Furthermore, the new implant delivers very good speech understanding in both quiet and noisy surroundings. The system is suitable for people with conductive hearing loss, combined hearing loss, or unilateral deafness.

“We are pleased to be able to provide our patients with a better hearing experience and higher protection from infections, as well as more wearing comfort with this new system,” says Prof. Dr. Susan Arndt, managing senior physician at the Department of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology at the Medical Center – University of Freiburg. It was Prof. Dr. Arndt and her team who inserted the implant. The Freiburg doctors have a great deal of experience in both using bone conduction systems and developing them further. “First of all, we examine whether an operation or a conventional hearing aid can help a patient. If this is not the case, we can offer suitable patients a very good alternative with bone conduction hearing systems,” Arndt explains. This was also the case with the patient who had already been operated three times and for whom another operation would presumably have brought no long-term improvement. “We know from our own studies on the previous model that those affected can benefit greatly from the new device,” says Arndt.

At the heart of the new implant is a piezoelectric transducer; it converts sound into vibrations, which are then passed on to the inner ear via the skull bones. The system can be adjusted using a smartphone app.