A Montreal teenager born without the ability to hear from one ear just became the first patient in North America to have groundbreaking surgery to implant a bone-anchored hearing aid.
Karina Theoret, 15, was awake for the whole surgery using only a local anesthetic.
“It was just like a loud vibration. I heard it. I felt it a little bit, but it didn’t hurt at all,” she says.
Her surgeon Sam Daniel punctured a tiny hole to drill a screw into the patient’s skull during the surgery at Montreal Children’s Hospital. The hole was so small, it didn’t require stitches. The surgery took less than 10 minutes, compared to other similar surgeries that have been undertaken and have taken several hours.
In a few weeks, doctors will attach a small external microphone that will conduct vibrations through this implant.
The procedure could soon become the norm, though it’s not suited to all patients.
In a few weeks, doctors will finish the procedure on Karina Theoret by attaching a small external microphone that will conduct vibrations through the implant — through Theoret’s skull — so her working left ear can process it.
Initially, she had anticipated that it would take months to recover from surgery to implant the bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA). Bone-anchored hearing aids are not new, but the technique used for Theoret’s surgery has only just been approved and is much less invasive, according to her surgeon.