Still, some patients do reject the devices after implantation. Dr. Hol and her team have implanted more than 100 SSD patients with BAHAs over the past several years. “We recently asked them whether they are still using the device after a mean follow-up of five years and found that, on average, 17% of the patients are no longer using the devices. In a smaller group of patients we’ve followed for up to 10 years, the drop-out rate approaches 30%.”
Explore This IssueJanuary 2014
Are those rates high? “It’s hard to say; there is very little published data on discontinuation of treatment in these patients,” Dr. Hol said. She added that the rate is partly due to a heterogenous patient mix: Some had congenital while others had acquired SSD, and the former group tends to judge hearing-aid interventions more critically because they already have developed considerable coping skills before being fitted.
Still, “that drop-out suggests to me that 10 years ago, perhaps we might have overlooked spcific items during pre-operative counseling of these patients about the benefits or expectations of BAHA in SSD. Or, we did not do enough pre-surgical trials of the hearing aids. We need to learn from that experience: These are very expensive devices, requiring fairly involved surgery and repeated adjusting and follow-up, to end up sitting on a shelf.”
David Bronstein is a freelance writer based in New Jersey.