Objectives/Hypothesis: To define audiological application criteria for different implantable hearing aid devices.
Study Design: Retrospective study.
Methods: Comparisons were made between aided speech recognition scores obtained at conversational level (65 dB) in patients with the Vibrant Soundbridge (VSB) (n = 22), the Otologics middle ear transducer (MET) (n = 10), conventional hearing aids (behind-the-ears) (n = 47), and cochlear implants (CIs) (n = 123).
Results: In relation to hearing loss, only for mild hearing loss, speech recognition scores with VSB were comparable to that with conventional hearing aids. In the Otologics MET users, speech recognition scores were comparable with those of the conventional hearing aid users until a mean hearing loss of about 75 dB HL. At a sensorineural hearing loss of about 65 dB HL or more, the Otologics MET users have better speech recognition scores than the VSB users. For comparison with CI users, we followed a more conservative approach. In 90% of the users of a CI, speech recognition scores were better than those in: 1) patients with a conventional hearing aid and a mean hearing loss of about 95 dB HL or worse; 2) patients with an Otologics MET and a mean hearing loss of 85 dB HL or worse.
Conclusions: Patients fitted with a VSB or an Otologics MET middle ear implant do not demonstrate better speech recognition scores than patients fitted with today's conventional hearing aids. Results might even been worse. However, the VSB and Otologics MET are a good option in patients with moderate (VSB) to severe (Otologics MET) sensorineural hearing loss and external otitis.