Bone Conduction Hearing Aids

Nonsurgical and Surgical Options

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Bone conduction hearing aids are a great option for people with hearing loss associated with problems in their outer or middle ears or for those with profound hearing loss in one ear. We offer devices that don't require surgery, as well as implanted devices that require minor surgery. Your age, medical history, and type and degree of hearing loss will dictate what kind of bone conduction hearing aid you need.

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How Does a Bone Conduction Hearing Aid Work?

These devices capture sound and transfer it through bone vibrations directly to the cochlea (the hearing organ in your inner ear). Unlike traditional hearing aids that simply amplify sound, bone conduction devices bypass your outer ear and middle ear entirely and create a new pathway for hearing. Bone conduction hearing aids can be used for one or both ears, and they can be used along with a traditional hearing aid on the opposite ear, if necessary.

Who is Eligible for a Bone Conduction Hearing Aid?

Typically, candidates have one of the following types of hearing loss:

  • Conductive hearing loss (when sound is blocked from traveling from the outer or middle ear to the inner ear)
  • One-sided, profound, sensorineural hearing loss (which results from damage to the inner ear or cochlea) 
  • Mixed hearing loss, meaning it is both conductive and sensorineural

Treatment Options

Your age, medical history, and type and degree of hearing loss will determine what kind of bone conduction device you need. There are two main types -- nonsurgical and surgical.

Nonsurgical Devices

These can be worn on a headband or attached directly to the skin with adhesive. This option is best suited for children who are not old enough for the surgical procedure (because their skulls have not yet fully hardened) or adults whose hearing loss is mild or who cannot have surgery.

Surgical Devices

Surgically implanted devices have two parts: an internal component and an external processor.

The internal component is placed under the skin and within the bone behind your ear. Depending on your hearing needs, your audiologist or otolaryngologist will suggest either a percutaneous or transcutaneous internal component.

  • For the percutaneous option, a titanium post protrudes through the skin, and the external processor attaches to the post.
  • For the transcutaneous option, the internal component attaches to the external processor with magnets that work through your skin.

There is no upper age limit for bone conduction, but children must be at least five years old (or 12 years old for specific device types) to undergo the surgery.

Our Locations

Duke Health offers locations for hearing aid consultation throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

What to Expect

Bone Conduction Hearing Aid Evaluation
To determine whether you are a candidate for a bone conduction hearing aid, you’ll have a comprehensive evaluation to determine your type and degree of hearing loss. If you qualify, you’ll have another appointment with an audiologist to learn more about the devices and try them on. The audiologist will test your ability to hear sound and understand speech with and without different types of hearing aid devices to determine which fit your needs best.

Implantation is performed at Duke University Hospital, Davis Ambulatory Surgery Center, or Duke Raleigh Hospital as outpatient surgery under general anesthesia. The procedure usually lasts about an hour. Only the internal component will be placed during surgery. You will likely go home the same day.

Device Activation
After surgery, there is a required healing period before your bone conduction hearing aid(s) can be turned on. Following a successful post-operative check-up, you’ll return to your audiologist to receive the external component and activate the device.

You’ll see your audiologist one month after device activation, and then periodically for adjustments and upgrades to the external processor. 

Why Choose Duke

More Options for You
Our team at Duke works with a variety of devices across the industry’s three bone conduction hearing aid manufacturers: Cochlear Americas, MED-EL, and Oticon Medical.

Comprehensive Testing
Your care team will perform a thorough series of evaluations to determine not only whether you are a candidate, but also which brand and type of bone conduction device is best-suited for your individual needs -- which is not standard practice everywhere.

Expert Team Approach
Our audiologists and otolaryngologists have years of experience in bone conduction technology. It’s our goal to improve your hearing so you can get back to doing what you enjoy most.

Consistently Ranked Among the Nation’s Best Hospitals

Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why we are once again recognized as the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 11 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2023–2024.

This page was medically reviewed on 09/13/2023 by