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Auditory Osseointegrated Implants (AOI)

There are two types of implants – cochlear implants and auditory osseointegrated (or bone-anchored) implants (AOI). Each implant is designed to improve hearing when hearing aids are not enough or when they are not considered medically appropriate, such as for patients for whom hearing aids or other implants do not provide sufficient hearing, or who cannot wear other types of implants.

What is an AOI?

An auditory osseointegrated implant, or bone-anchored hearing implant, is a surgically placed implant that delivers sound to the organ of hearing via direct bone conduction. “Osseointegratio,” derived from Greek and Latin words, involves the integration of bone, by fusing live bone in the ear with an implant made from titanium. Osseointegrated implants are performed during an outpatient surgery of about 2–3 hours.

How Does an Osseointegrated Implant Work?

  • During surgery, titanium prosthesis is surgically embedded into the skull with either a small abutment exposed outside the skin or a magnet under the skin.
  • An external sound processor then captures sound and transmits these signals as sound vibrations to the titanium implant. 
  • The implant allows the inner ear, which is encased in bone, to receive these vibrations, allowing for improved hearing.

Who is a Candidate for an AOI?

  • To benefit from the osseointegrated system, a person needs sufficient hearing sensitivity in at least one inner ear but can have varying degrees of hearing loss in the opposite ear.  The following types of hearing losses can potentially be helped:
    • Permanent conductive hearing loss from congenital (e.g. atresia) or surgical origins
    • Mixed hearing loss where hearing aids cannot be worn or are of limited benefit
    • Significant nerve-based hearing loss on one side (sometimes referred to as single-sided deafness) where a hearing aid cannot help.
    • Adults and children who are at least five years old can be evaluated for candidacy.  Those under five can wear the processor on a soft band.

What are the benefits of AOIs?

  • You should meet with an otologist and audiologist to determine if this option is appropriate for you and your hearing loss.
  • If an osseointegrated implant is appropriate, you will be scheduled for an appointment to review your options and test a device. This gives you a better idea of what hearing through this system will sound like.

Why Choose UI Audiology’s AOI Program?

  • UI Health’s mission is to help guide our patients and their families through each step of the lifelong journey, from the time that hearing loss is identified to the therapy and ongoing care that follow. We view our patients and their families as extended members of our multidisciplinary team — working together to help those with hearing loss.
  • We provide all the services and resources patients need to realize their full potential, from high-technology treatments to high-touch personal care and attention.
  • We participate in ongoing research and use evidence-based practice, proven over many years of experience with the diversity of challenging cases managed in a nationally regarded academic medical center program.
  • We have staff members and clinicians who are fluent in Spanish. We also offer interpreting services for all other languages.
  • We are conveniently located, with clinics/offices in the Illinois Medical District near downtown Chicago and in suburban Elmhurst.
  • We work closely with and provide training to local schools, Early Intervention providers, the Illinois Division of Specialized Care for Children, and other organizations as needed. These services and activities support our younger patients’ educational needs, including providing special education and mainstreaming services. We are proud of our younger patients’ outstanding record of adapting well in school.
  • We frequently connect AOI candidates and their families with alumni patients and families to provide additional avenues of support.

An AOI’s sound processor can enable wireless access to streamed audio for users. Streamed audio can be accessed through phones, computers, televisions, and other devices.  The processor also can function as a wireless headset when paired with a cellphone, and as a remote-control device for adjusting volume or changing applications. When connected to Bluetooth, users can enjoy music and connect to sound systems in classrooms, theaters, arenas, and other locales.