Middle Ear Implant Technology
Middle ear implants, or MEI, are implantable alternatives to hearing aids. These devices can be used to treat patients with sensorineural hearing loss. In rare circumstances, these implants can be helpful for patients with conductive or mixed hearing loss, if conventional hearing aids cannot be used.
Most middle ear implants are partially or semi-implanted. The devices consist of two components, an internal and an external part.
The internal, implanted part consists of:
- A radio frequency receiver
- Electronic components, and
- A mechanical vibrator
The external part is an audio processor that includes the:
- Speech processor, and
- Audio frequency transmitter
A fully implantable MEI is also available. All of its components, including the battery and microphone, can be implanted.
Patients who are candidates for middle ear implants should be free of significant middle ear disease or infection. Hearing loss should be stable, and word recognition scores should be sufficient to allow adequate discrimination of sounds.