First Bone-Anchored Hearing Aid Implant at Groote Schuur | Western Cape Government


First Bone-Anchored Hearing Aid Implant at Groote Schuur

22 February 2011

On the 23rd of February 2011, Dr Estie Meyer, an ear surgeon at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, will be implanting the first Bone-Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA) at a state hospital in the Western Cape.

The BAHA system consists of a small titanium implant that is placed in the bone behind the ear where it grows together with the living bone. An external sound processor is attached to the implant after a healing period of six to twelve weeks, which picks up and transfers external sounds directly to the cochlea via bone conduction (the skull). The BAHA system is normally indicated for patients who were born without ear canals or have middle-ear problems and cannot wear conventional hearing aids.

The new BAHA team at the Groote Schuur Hospital consists of Dr Estie Meyer (Otologist) and audiologists Sharon Pithey, Megan Ferguson and Shanaaz Marlie. The team is clinically supported by Southern ENT, the South African distributor of the European imported BAHA system. Dr Derrick Wagenfeld of the University of Stellenbosch Tygerberg Hospital Cochlear Implant Programme, who pioneered cochlear implant surgery in South Africa 25 years ago, will be offering his expertise to the Groote Schuur Hospital's new BAHA Programme.

The programme will commence with implanting BAHA's into two children who were selected according to international selection criteria.

Asiphe Ngamlana (aged 13 years) of Khayamandi in Stellenbosch has Treacher Collins Syndrome. She was born without ear canals and can therefore not wear a conventional hearing aid. Her current hearing aid fits onto her head like an Alice band and conducts sound through her skin and then to the skull. The device becomes uncomfortable after a while and does not provide optimal hearing. The BAHA that will be implanted into her skull will bypass the skin and muscle overlying the skull and will conduct the sound directly into the bone (skull), and then to the hearing nerve. This system should not only dramatically improve her hearing but is also comfortable to wear.

The second patient, Kanya Mbaliswana (aged 13 years) of Khayelitsha also does not derive maximum benefit from a conventional hearing aid. Due to multiple surgeries to both ears, Kanya experiences chronic ear infection, and therefore cannot use conventional hearing aids well. His poor hearing is affecting his school work. For these reasons he is an excellent candidate to benefit from a BAHA implant.

The BAHA is an excellent alternative product to selected people with hearing disabilities. However, many candidates cannot afford the implant that costs about R50 000.

Theuns Botha, Western Cape Minister of Health, said: "We wish the BAHA team at Groote Schuur Hospital well with this programme. This shows again that the public hospitals can be frontrunners in providing world class service to our patients."

For more information about BAHA implants, contact Sharon Pithey (audiologist) at the Groote Schuur Hospital at 021 - 4045284.

Issued by:
Directorate Communications
Western Cape Department of Health

Media Enquiries: 

Alaric Jacobs
Communications Officer at Groote Schuur Hospital
Tel: 021 404 2188
Cell: 083 412 5608
Fax: 021 404 3254