The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared the MED-EL ADHEAR, an innovative non-surgical bone conduction solution for conductive hearing loss, the company announced on May 1. Described as the “next generation of non-surgical bone conduction hearing technology,” ADHEAR consists of a patented adhesive adapter (tan-colored in the above photo) that is placed onto the skin behind the ear and is worn for 3 to 7 days at a time.

According to MED-EL, which has its headquarters in Durham, NC, ADHEAR is as an excellent option for people with conductive hearing loss who are not candidates for, or who would not like to undergo, bone conduction implant surgery. It is also a treatment option for candidates with single-sided deafness and normal hearing on the contralateral side.

MED-EL’s Acoustic Systems Manager Amanda O’Donnell demonstrates the ADHEAR system to HR Editor Karl Strom at the 2018 American Academy of Audiology Convention in Nashville.

MED-EL Acoustic Systems Manager Amanda O’Donnell demonstrates the ADHEAR system to HR Editor Karl Strom at the 2018 American Academy of Audiology Convention in Nashville.

The ADHEAR system was one of the more unique and talked-about new innovations that were previewed at the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) convention this April in Nashville. MED-EL’s Acoustic Systems Manager Amanda O’Donnell, AuD, provided a demonstration to The Hearing Review, and it was apparent how it might be used in a variety of applications, especially when a surgical implant is not feasible or when patients (or their parents) are undecided. The new adherable adapter resembles what some might describe as a high-tech “sticker” which contains a place for the audio processor to snap onto. The system might present an option for a person with conductive hearing loss, as well as an excellent opportunity for someone to immediately try an advanced bone-conduction device without surgery and with little inconvenience.

How it works. According to MED-EL, ADHEAR is easy to use. The adhesive adapter is placed onto the skin behind the ear, and the lightweight audio processor is simply clicked on and off the adapter each day. The audio processor picks up sound waves, converts them into vibrations and transmits them onto the bone via the adhesive adaptor. The bone then transfers the vibrations through the skull to the inner ear where they are processed as normal sound. Bone conduction uses the bones of the skull to transmit sound waves directly to the inner ear and may be an appropriate option for people who have hearing loss due to problems with the eardrum, ear canal, or middle ear.

Until now, non-surgical bone conduction devices have required pressure against the head causing discomfort for the user. ADHEAR comfortably stays in position without applying pressure onto the skin, while its discreet location behind the ear makes it cosmetically appealing.

MED-EL acquired the device’s technology from the Swedish medical device company Otorix in 2016 and further developed ADHEAR at MED-EL’s headquarters in Innsbruck, Austria.

“MED-EL has always been at the forefront of innovative hearing loss technology and ADHEAR adds to our growing range of high-quality hearing loss solutions,” said Raymond Gamble, CEO & President, MED-EL North America. “It opens up a whole new world of sound to people with conductive hearing loss, enabling us to help more people overcome hearing loss as a barrier to communication.”

MED-EL USA anticipates ADHEAR availability in Summer 2018. Trainings for hearing health professionals will be occurring throughout the country. Hearing centers and potential candidates can contact MED-EL at www.medel.com/us/adhear or (888) MED-EL-CI (633-3524) for more information.