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Implantable hearing device brings high frequency sounds back in range

The cochlea and vestibule, viewed from above.
The cochlea and vestibule, viewed from above. 20th U.S. edition of Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body, originally published in 1918 now in public domain.

The Nucleus Hybrid L24 Cochlear Implant System, the first implantable hearing device has been approved by the FDA. The device is specifically designed to help adults over the age of 18 with “severe or profound sensorineural hearing loss of high-frequency sounds in both ears, but who can still hear low-frequency sounds with or without a hearing aid.”

Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common form of hearing loss and occurs when there is damage to the cochlea, a section of the inner ear (resembling a snail shell) that receives sound in the form of vibrations. This can be the result of certain diseases as well as by aging, heredity, exposure to loud noise, and even antibiotics found to be toxic to the inner ear.

“Hearing loss greatly impacts the education, employment, and well-being of many Americans,” said Christy Foreman, director of the Office of Device Evaluation at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “This device may provide improved speech recognition for people with this kind of hearing loss, who have limited treatment options.”

According to the manufacturer, Cochlear Ltd., of New South Wales, Australia, “ The Nucleus Hybrid L24 Cochlear Implant System “combines the functions of a cochlear implant and a hearing aid,” employing an external microphone and speech processor that picks up sounds from the environment and converts them into electrical impulses. The impulses are transmitted to the cochlea through a small bundle of implanted electrodes, creating a sense of sound that the user learns to associate with the mid- and high-frequency sounds they remember. The hearing aid portion of the device is inserted into the outer ear canal like a conventional hearing aid, and can amplify sounds in the low-frequency range.”

For more information readers can contact the Food and Drug Administration at 888-INFO-FDA

Source: FDA