The conventional air-conduction approach, said Bedoya, is an inefficient way of transmitting sound. Bedoya, whose company has developed two implantable systems, said that the thinking behind the MEI was, “Let’s see if surgically we can drive the middle ear directly and eliminate those inefficiencies and potential distortions.”
Once the device is successfully implanted and programmed, the wearer can essentially ignore it. “There is something very appealing to patients about not having to put something on to be able to hear,” Dr. Arriaga said. “They can leave it on 24 hours a day, swim or shower with it, and never worry about forgetting or losing it.”
Because it’s totally implanted, there is no issue of stigma or cosmetics. Maintenance is also minimal, with an implanted battery the manufacturer says will last for 4.5 to nine years.