Auditory Brain Stem Implant (ABI)

Hearing aids are useful devices to restore hearing to many patients. But there are some conditions that cause hearing loss, such as tumors on the hearing nerve, that are too complex to respond to conventional hearing devices. Neurotologist Moises Arriaga of CNC Hearing and Balance Center discusses the Auditory Brain Stem Implant as a surgical option to restore hearing for patients whose conditions are not suited for hearing aids or even cochlear implants.

Transcript of Dr. Arriaga at a hearing health seminar in which he describes Auditory Brain Stem Implants to restore hearing caused by Acoustic Tumors.  (Video taken before the pandemic):

…The auditory brainstem implant:  I have patients who have a special type of ear tumor… the acoustic tumor, who have it on both ears. So that’s a nightmare, right? Because these people are going to actually lose their hearing in both ears. And the other nightmare about this kind of condition, it’s genetic, is that it can often start very early in the teenage years. And by the mid twenties it can actually affect both hearing nerves. And there are different versions of it. Some forms are very, very aggressive early on and cause tumors all up and down the spine and whatnot. Some are more indolent and we diagnose them later and the tumors are growing. One of the things you need for a cochlear implant, is you need a hearing nerve to go from the cochlea to the brain.

And if the tumor is on the cochlear nerve, you have to take out the tumor, cause it’s putting pressure on the stem of the brain. If I put a cochlear implant in, there’s nothing to connect that to the brain. And so what the auditory brainstem implant does, is,  it’s the same device, the back part that you were seeing. But instead the electrode pad goes all the way next to the hearing center in the brain.

These are wonderful. If you’re otherwise going to be in a deaf world, they are not as good as cochlear implants. So if I have any chance to use a cochlear implant, rather than a brainstem implant, that’s my first choice, but it gives us something to do when the anatomy isn’t there for a cochlear implant.