Clin. Otolaryngol. 2010, 35, 284–290

Objectives:  To assess the efficacy of the bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA) in the rehabilitation of single-sided deafness (SSD).

Study design:  Retrospective case–control series review.

Setting:  Tertiary referral unit.

Patients:  Fifty-eight consecutive patients that had a bone-anchored hearing aid for single-sided deafness completed outcome questionnaires, building upon earlier audiological assessment of 19 patients. Single-sided deafness controls (n = 49) were mainly acoustic neuroma patients. Main outcome measurements: speech discrimination testing in directional noise, speech and spatial qualities of hearing questionnaire and the Glasgow Benefit Inventory (GBI).

Results:  The mean follow-up time was 28.4 months. Five (13%) of the bone-anchored hearing aid patients were non-users because of lack of benefit. The audiometric testing confirmed that when noise was on the bone-anchored hearing aid side speech perception was reduced but benefited when noise was on the side of the hearing ear. There was no difference between the Speech and Spatial Qualities of Hearing Scores in bone-anchored hearing aid users and controls. In particular there was no difference in the spatial subscores. In the bone-anchored hearing aid users the median Glasgow Benefit Inventory score was 11. If the non-users are included then 13 (22%) patients had no or detrimental (negative) Benefit scores. No or negative benefit scores were more frequent in those deaf for <10 years. In open-field questions, patients felt the bone-anchored hearing aid was most useful in small groups or in ‘one-to-one’ conversation.

Conclusions:  Bone-anchored hearing aid rehabilitation for single-sided deafness is less successful than for other indications, reflected here by relatively low median Glasgow Benefit Inventory scores. There was also no significant difference between controls and bone-anchored hearing aid users in the Speech and Spatial Qualities of Hearing Questionnaire. Patients with a longer duration of deafness report greater subjective benefit than those more recently deafened, perhaps due to differing expectations.