Latent Demand for the Bone-Anchored Hearing Aid: The Lippy Group Experience

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Objective:The usefulness of the bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA) for conductive and mixed hearing losses and recently for single-sided deafness has been well documented. Less clear is the number of patients who might benefit from the BAHA and how many would be interested in having the surgery. The purpose of this investigation is to examine these latter issues from the perspective of an otology practice.Study Design:Retrospective review.Setting:Private otology practice.Patients:Approximately 44,000 patient records were reviewed. On the basis of this review, 617 patients were sent a letter describing the BAHA and explaining that they might be candidates. One hundred sixty-two of these patients made an appointment to be evaluated for the BAHA.Methods:Patients who responded to the BAHA letter underwent an otologic and audiological evaluation to confirm their candidacy. The BAHA surgery and device were described, and interested patients tried the BAHA test band in the office. Patient responses to the BAHA were noted.Results:Approximately 1.4% of the cases reviewed (617/44,000) were considered to be potential BAHA candidates. One hundred forty-six of the 162 patients who scheduled a BAHA evaluation were confirmed to be candidates. After seeing and learning about the BAHA, 92% of the verified candidates wanted to try the BAHA test band. Most patients who tried the test band (92%) liked the BAHA, and nearly a third (30.6%) had BAHA surgery. Patients with conductive or mixed hearing loss who tried the test band were more likely to have BAHA surgery than those with single-sided deafness (45.8% versus 27.3%). The major limiting factor was infrequent or inadequate insurance coverage for the procedure or device.Conclusions:Although the percentage of patients in an otology practice who could benefit from the BAHA is small, finding and alerting potential BAHA candidates are worthwhile.

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