Annie grows in confidence after receiving bone anchored hearing implant technology at Leeds General Infirmary
16 June 2016
Six-year-old Anabella Chambers (Annie) is enjoying the benefits of hearing again after being fitted with bilateral bone anchored hearing aids (BAHA).
Annie’s hearing problems began when she was diagnosed with ‘glue ear’ and she was initially fitted with grommets. Intractable infections meant that she also tried conventional in-ear hearing aids but these also caused regular ear canal infections, leaving her reluctant to wear them.
Last summer in an operation at Leeds General Infirmary, Annie, who lives in Otley, successfully received a BAHA implant in her left ear. Annie and her parents were so impressed with the process and results that she subsequently had a second implant fitted for her other ear.
BAHAs are suitable for children with conductive hearing loss who cannot benefit fully from conventional hearing aids. They work using a small titanium implant that is inserted into the bone behind the patient’s ear to create an attachment for the small external screw (abutment). The sound processor clips to this and directs sound vibrations through the bone of the skull to stimulate the inner ear, allowing the patient to hear more clearly.
A few weeks after the operation, a specialist audiologist is able to adapt the implant to the patient’s hearing and each implant potentially lasts a lifetime. Mr Sanjay Verma, Consultant Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon at Leeds Teaching Hospitals successfully implanted each of the hearing aids in two 30 minute operations, allowing Annie to go home on the same day.
Mr Verma said: “The BAHA implant is a very useful hearing option for our young patients. For patients like Annie who regularly suffered from ear infections with both grommets and conventional hearing aids, BAHA implants give them an excellent level of hearing which has a positive impact on their social and educational development.”
He added: “The dedicated hard work of our paediatric ward and theatre teams including Dr Mark Wigginton, Paediatric Anaesthetist, meant that Annie recovered from the operation quickly. Annie is one of only a few paediatric patients who have had two BAHAs fitted so it is gratifying to hear how much of a difference they have made, not only in her hearing, but also as a solution to the repeated ear infections she was getting.”
Annie is now able to take part in activities such as athletics and cycling, and is much safer on her bike thanks to the new implants. Previously she would get tired easily, after having to concentrate so much in order to hear. BAHAs also come in a range of different colours and can be customised to make them more appealing to paediatric patients - Annie is hoping to decorate hers to match her dress when she is a flower girl for an upcoming wedding.
Helen Chambers, Annie’s mum said: “We are thrilled with the results of the operation as it allows Annie to be a lively six year old and enjoy all her hobbies. This type of hearing aid means that we are no longer worrying about ear infections and Annie is very lucky to have received two, giving her complete hearing for the first time.”
Dad, Chris Chambers, added: “Since having the BAHAs fitted, Annie’s development and confidence at school has grown and she is now able to join in with lots more activities with her friends. We are very grateful to everyone at Leeds Teaching Hospitals for the seamless care that Annie has received and we can’t recommend the implants enough for children with hearing difficulties like Annie.”
The implants are known as the BAHA Connect system. They are manufactured by a company called Cochlear for adult and paediatric patients.