A bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA) is a surgically implanted hearing aid that works by transmitting soundwaves directly through the skull rather than through air waves passing through the ears. People with normal hearing can hear sounds coming through both air waves and through bone; those with outer or middle ear damages, however, are often unable to process sound waves through air. This is where BAHA comes in.

BAHA consists of three parts: a titanium fixture, an abutment and an external sound processor. The titanium fixture is surgically implanted into the bone behind the ear so that only the abutment is visible. The sound processor, which “catches” the vibrations of sound waves, transfers the waves through the abutment and fixture into the bone and then to the inner ear. It allows the user to still hear sounds naturally, similar to how one hears their own voice.

The audiologist will fit and program the BAHA device’s external components to your unique hearing situation. The programming system is called mapping; maps are programs that are customized for the user’s implant. Frequent customized mapping provides the best hearing experience for the user. The audiologist performs mapping by using beeps to adjust the device’s processors.

BAHA is best suited for those with conductive hearing loss, unilateral hearing loss, single-sided deafness and mixed hearing losses due to damages to the middle or outer ear. This is because the BAHA system bypasses these features and transfers sound directly from outside the head to the inner ear.

It is possible to test the BAHA system to see if it will work for you. Your doctor can connect the BAHA sound processor to your head via headband, which will provide a similar hearing experience as the implant.