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MP 7.01.03 Implantable Bone-Conduction and Bone-Anchored Hearing Aids

Medical Policy    
Original Policy Date
Last Review Status/Date
Reviewed with literature search/1:2015
  Return to Medical Policy Index


Our medical policies are designed for informational purposes only and are not an authorization, or an explanation of benefits, or a contract.  Receipt of benefits is subject to satisfaction of all terms and conditions of the coverage.  Medical technology is constantly changing, and we reserve the right to review and update our policies periodically.



Hearing loss is described as conductive, sensorineural, or mixed and can be unilateral or bilateral. Normal hearing is the detection of sound at or below 20 dB (decibel). The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASLHA) has defined the degree of hearing loss based on pure-tone average (PTA) detection thresholds as mild (20-40 dB), moderate (40-60 dB), severe (60-80 dB), and profound (≥80 dB). PTA is calculated by averaging the hearing sensitivities (ie, the minimum colume that the patient hears) at multiple frequencies (perceived as pitch), typically within the range of 0.25 to 8 kHz.

Sound amplification through the use of an air-conduction (AC) hearing aid can provide benefit to patients with sensorineural or mixed hearing loss. Contralateral routing of signal (CROS) is a system in which a microphone on the affected side transmits a signal to an AC hearing aid on the normal or less affected side.

External bone-conduction hearing aids function by transmitting sound waves through the bone to the ossicles of the middle ear. The external devices must be closely applied to the temporal bone, with either a steel spring over the top of the head or with the use of a spring-loaded arm on a pair of spectacles. These devices may be associated with either pressure headaches or soreness.

The BAHA implant system works by combining a vibrational transducer coupled directly to the skull via a percutaneous abutment that permanently protrudes through the skin from a small titanium implant anchored in the temporal bone. The system is based on the process of osseointegration through which living tissue integrates with titanium in the implant over a period of 3 to 6 months, allowing amplified and
processed sound to be conducted via the skull bone directly to the cochlea. The lack of intervening skin permits the transmission of vibrations at a lower energy level than required for external bone-conduction hearing aids. Implantable bone-conduction hearing systems are primarily indicated for people with conductive or mixed sensorineural/conductive hearing loss, or as an alternative to an AC hearing aid with CROS for individuals with unilateral sensorineural hearing loss.

Partially implantable magnetic bone-conduction hearing systems are available as an alternative to bone-conduction hearing systems connected percutaneously via an abutment. With this technique, acoustic transmission occurs transcutaneously via magnetic coupling of the external sound processor and the internally implanted device components. The bone-conduction hearing processor contains magnets that
adhere externally to magnets implanted in shallow bone beds with the bone-conduction hearing implant. Because the processor adheres magnetically to the implant, there is no need for a percutaneous abutment to physically connect the external and internal components. To facilitate greater transmission of acoustics between magnets, skin thickness may be reduced to 4 to 5 mm over the implant when it is
surgically placed.

Regulatory Status

There are 5 BAHA® sound processors for use with the BAHA auditory osseointegrated implant system manufactured by Cochlear Americas (Englewood, CO) that have received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA):

  • BAHA Cordelle II
  • BAHA Divino
  • BAHA Intenso (digital signal processing)
  • BAHA BP100
  • BAHA 4 (upgraded from the BP100)

FDA cleared the BAHA system for the following indications:

  • Patients who have conductive or mixed hearing loss and can still benefit from sound amplification;
  • Patients with bilaterally symmetric conductive or mixed hearing loss, may be implanted bilaterally;
  • Patients with sensorineural deafness in 1 ear and normal hearing in the other (ie, single-sided deafness, SSD);
  • Patients who are candidates for an air-conduction contralateral routing of signals (AC CROS) hearing aid but who cannot or will not wear an AC CROS device.

The BAHA implant is cleared for use in children aged 5 years and older, and in adults.

BAHA sound processors can also be used with the BAHA® Softband™. With this application, there is no implantation surgery. The sound processor is attached to the head using either a hard or soft headband. The amplified sound is transmitted transcutaneously to the bones of the skull for transmission to the cochlea. The BAHA® Softband™ received FDA clearance in 2002 for use in children younger than the age of 5 years. As this application has no implanted components, it is not addressed in the policy.

In November 2008, the device “OBC Bone Anchored Hearing Aid System” (Oticon Medical, Kongebakken, Denmark) was cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for marketing through the 510(k) process. Subsequently, additional bone-conduction hearing systems have received 510(k) marketing clearance from the FDA including Otomag® (Sophono Inc., Boulder, CO) and Ponto™ (Oticon Medical). The Ponto Pro processor can be used with the Oticon or BAHA implants. In May 2011, Sophono, Inc. and Oticon Medical partnered to receive 510(k) marketing clearance from FDA for the Otomag Alpha 1(M), a partially implantable bone-conduction hearing system. All of these devices were determined to be substantially equivalent to existing devices (eg, the Xomed Audiant™, which was FDA cleared for marketing in 1986 but is no longer available). They share similar indications as the Cochlear Americas BAHA devices.

The 2 partially implantable magnetic bone-conduction devices that have received 510(k) clearance from FDA are:

  • Otomag Bone Conduction Hearing System (Sophono Inc., Boulder CO), and
  • Cochlear BAHA Attract (Cochlear Americas, Centennial, CO)

The BoneBridge™ (MedEl, Innsbruck, Austria) is another partially implantable bone-conduction implant that is cleared for marketing in Europe but has not received FDA approval for use in the United States.

The SoundBite™ Hearing System (Sonitus Medical, San Mateo, CA) is an intraoral bone-conducting hearing prosthesis that consists of a behind-the-ear microphone and an in-the-mouth hearing device and was cleared for marketing through FDA’s 510(k) clearance process in 2011 for similar indications as the BAHA. Because this system has no implanted components, it is not addressed in the current policy.

FDA product code (for bone-anchored hearing aid): LXB.

FDA product code (for implanted bone-conduction hearing aid): MAH.


Unilateral or bilateral implantable bone-conduction (bone-anchored) hearing aid(s) may be considered medically necessary as an alternative to an air-conduction hearing aid in patients 5 years of age and older with a conductive or mixed hearing loss who also meet at least one of the following medical criteria:

  • Congenital or surgically induced malformations (eg, atresia) of the external ear canal or middle ear; or
  • Chronic external otitis or otitis media; or
  • Tumors of the external canal and/or tympanic cavity; or
  • Dermatitis of the external canal;

and meet the following audiologic criteria:

  • A pure tone average bone-conduction threshold measured at 0.5, 1, 2, and 3 kHz of better than or equal to 45 dB (OBC and BP100 devices), 55 dB (Intenso device), or 65 dB (Cordele II device).

For bilateral implantation, patients should meet the above audiologic criteria and have a symmetrically conductive or mixed hearing loss as defined by a difference between left and right side bone-conduction threshold of less than 10 dB on average measured at 0.5, 1, 2, and 3 kHz (4 kHz for OBC and Ponto Pro), or less than 15 dB at individual frequencies.

An implantable bone-conduction (bone-anchored) hearing aid may be considered medically necessary as an alternative to an air-conduction CROS hearing aid in patients 5 years of age and older with single-sided sensorineural deafness and normal hearing in the other ear. The pure tone average air conduction threshold of the normal ear should be better than 20 dB measured at 0.5, 1, 2, and 3 kHz.

Other uses of implantable bone-conduction (bone-anchored) hearing aids, including use in patients with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss, are considered investigational.

Partially implantable magnetic bone-conduction hearing systems using magnetic coupling for acoustic transmission (eg, Otomag Alpha 1 and BAHA Attract) are considered investigational.

Policy Guidelines 


Patient Characteristics

In patients being considered for implantable bone-conduction (bone-anchored) hearing aid(s), skull bone quality and thickness should be assessed for adequacy to ensure implant stability. Additionally, patients (or caregivers) must be able to perform proper hygiene to prevent infection and ensure the stability of the implants and percutaneous abutments.

The following CPT codes describe semi-implantable bone-conduction hearing aids:

69710: Implantation or replacement of electromagnetic bone-conduction hearing device in temporal bone*

69711: Removal or repair of electromagnetic bone-conduction hearing device in temporal bone*

*The Audiant bone conductor is a type of electromagnetic bone-conduction hearing device. While this product is no longer actively marketed, patients with existing Audiant devices may require replacement, removal, or repair.

69714: Implantation, osseointegrated implant, temporal bone, with percutaneous attachment to external speech processor/cochlear stimulator; without mastoidectomy**

69715: as above, but with mastoidectomy**

** The above 2 CPT codes describe the BAHA device.

There are HCPCS codes specific to this device:

L8690: Auditory osseointegrated device, includes all internal and external components

L8691: Auditory osseointegrated device, external sound processor, replacement

L8693: Auditory osseointegrated device abutment, any length, replacement only

Benefit Application
BlueCard/National Account Issues 

These devices are referred to as Hearing Aid, Bone Conduction in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. The FDA review also indicates that this device has substantially equivalent technology as air-conduction hearing aids with digital sound processing. However, beginning December 2005, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began to consider these devices as prosthetics. Thus, Plans need to review contract language in making decisions about classification.

Benefit limitations regarding hearing aids may apply to these devices. Many medical insurance plans do not provide coverage for hearing aids or provide limited coverage.

State or federal mandates (e.g., FEP) may dictate that all devices approved by the FDA may not be considered investigational. However, this policy considers specific applications of an FDA-approved device as investigational. Alternatively, FDA-approved devices may be assessed on the basis of their medical necessity.


This policy was created in 1995 and updated regularly with searches of the MEDLINE database, most recently through December 2, 2014.

The evidence related to the use of bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA) devices is characterized by observational studies that report pre- and postimplant hearing outcomes in patients treated with BAHA. Many of these studies combine patients with differing underlying disease states and indications. No randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have compared implantable bone-conduction hearing aids to other hearing augmentation devices, or sham devices. Following is a summary of key findings.

Bone-Anchored Hearing Aid

Overall Efficacy of BAHAs

Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses

A systematic review by the Health Technology Assessment Program was published in 2011 on the use of BAHAs for bilateral hearing impairment.(1,2) The authors noted that the quality of available studies on the use of BAHAs was weak. No studies with control groups were identified for the review. Cohort pre-post studies and cross-sectional comparative studies demonstrated improvements in hearing with use of
BAHAs over conventional bone-conduction hearing aids or unaided hearing. However, whether improvements in hearing with BAHAs are greater than with air-conduction (AC) hearing aids is uncertain.

Additionally, bilateral use of BAHAs improved hearing outcomes in some patients over unilateral use, but the evidence was uncertain. Implant loss was noted to be between 6.1% and 19.4%. The authors noted hearing-specific quality of life improved, but overall quality of life did not differ.

Observational Studies

Since the publication of the Health Technology Assessment Program systematic review, a number of observational studies have evaluated specific aspects of BAHA implantation or reported outcomes in specific populations. Several observational studies have suggested that newer generation BAHAs with fully digital signal processors improve hearing to a greater degree than earlier generation devices.(3,4)

In 2014, Farnoush et al retrospectively compared BAHA placement with reconstruction of the external auditory canal for children and adolescents with congenital aural atresia or stenosis who were treated at a single institution from 1988 to 2011.5 Sixty-eight patients were included, 49 who underwent external auditory canal reconstruction (EACR) and 19 who received a BAHA. Groups differed significantly in terms
of age, presence of bilateral atresia, and presence of an associated syndrome. Audiologic data were available for 41 patients. At short-term (<6 months postsurgery) follow-up, the BAHA group had larger hearing gains on AC than the EACR group (44.3 dB vs 20.0 dB; p<0.001); similarly, the BAHA group had larger hearing gains at long term (>1 year postsurgery) follow-up (44.5 dB vs 15.3 dB; p<0.001). Qualityof-
life scores and requirements for revision surgery did not differ significantly between the groups.

In 2010, Ramakrishnan et al retrospectively reviewed bone-anchored and Softband-held conductive hearing aids in 109 children and young adults in a single center.(6) The patient population was somewhat unique in that many patients had craniofacial or genetic syndromes in addition to hearing loss (22/109). Criteria for the selection of the implanted device or the Softband were not described; however, the authors did note an uneven distribution by mean age, sex, and syndromic comorbidity. Primary measures were the Glasgow Benefit Inventory or Listening Situation Questionnaire (parent version) administered at least 3 months following hearing aid intervention. Mean overall Glasgow Benefit Inventory scores were reported as +29 (range, 11-72). The mean Listening Situation Questionnaire score of 17 was reported as
less than a referral cutoff of 22. The authors concluded that this population benefitted from boneanchored and Softband-held conductive hearing aids based on mean scores. However, the study is limited due to a heterogeneous patient population and lack of preintervention measures and a controlled comparator group.

In 2004, McLarnon et al reported outcomes (benefits) for BAHAs by patient subgroups based on 69 (73%) of 94 patients who completed a questionnaire.(7) This study noted the greatest benefit in those with congenital ear disorders. It also showed benefit to restoring stereo hearing to patients with an acquired unilateral hearing loss after acoustic neuroma surgery.

In 2008, Tringali et al surveyed patients using a BAHA to compare patient satisfaction by indication: 52 respondents with conductive or mixed hearing loss (44 with chronic otitis and 8 with malformation of the middle ear) compared with 118 patients with single-sided deafness (SSD) (92 after surgery for vestibular schwannoma, 2 after surgery for meningioma, 24 with other causes, such as, idiopathic sudden deafness
and sensorineural hearing loss complicating surgery of the middle ear).(8) Levels of satisfaction and quality of life were significantly poorer in the SSD than in the conductive hearing loss (CHL) group, although generally good with the exception of sound localization.

Earlier case series suggested that the BAHA was associated with improved hearing compared with earlier generations of bone-conducting devices and AC hearing aids,(9,10) and produce acceptable hearing outcomes in individuals unable to receive an AC hearing aid.(11,12)

Efficacy of Bilateral BAHA Devices in Conductive or Mixed Hearing Loss

Use of bilateral devices has been evaluated in patients with conductive or mixed hearing losses. A number of studies, published over several years, have demonstrated a consistent improvement in speech recognition in noise and in sound localization with bilateral devices.

Janssen et al (2012) conducted a systematic review to assess the outcomes of bilateral versus unilateral BAHA for individuals with bilateral permanent CHL.(13) Their search strategy included studies of all languages published between 1977 and July 2011. Studies were included if subjects of any age had permanent bilateral CHL and bilateral implanted BAHAs. Outcome measures of interest were any subjective or objective audiologic measures, quality-of-life indicators, or reports of adverse events. Eleven studies met their inclusion criteria. All 11 studies were observational. There were a total of 168 patients in the 11 studies, 155 of whom had BAHAs and 146 of whom had bilateral BAHAs. In most studies, comparisons between unilateral and bilateral BAHA were intrasubject. Patients ranged from 5 to 83 years of age; 46% were male, and 54% were female. Heterogeneity of the methodologies between studies precluded meta-analysis, therefore a qualitative review was performed. Results from 3 (of 11) studies were excluded from synthesis because their patients had been included in multiple publications. Adverse events were not an outcome measure of any of the included studies.(13) In general, bilateral BAHA was observed to provide additional objective and subjective benefit compared with unilateral BAHA. For example, the improvement in tone thresholds associated with bilateral BAHA ranged from 2 to 15 dB, the improvement in speech recognition patterns ranged from 4 to 5.4 dB, and the improvement in the Word Recognition Score ranged from 1% to 8%. However, these results were based on a limited number of small observational studies consisting of heterogeneous patient groups that varied in age, severity of hearing loss, etiology of hearing loss, and previous amplification experience.(13)

Examples of individual studies include the following. In 2001, Bosman et al reported on findings from 25 patients who were using bilateral devices.(14) They found that both speech recognition in noise and directional hearing improved with the second device. In a 2004 publication, Priwin et al reported similar findings in 12 patients with bilateral devices.(15) A consensus statement published in 2005 concluded that bilateral devices resulted in binaural hearing with improved directional hearing and improved speech-innoise scores in those with bilateral CHL and symmetric bone-conduction thresholds.(16) A number of additional studies that are cited in this report found benefits similar to those noted in the studies of the Bosman et al and Priwin et al reports.(14,15) Positive outcomes continue to be reported: Dun et al (2010)(17)
identified improvements in the Glasgow Benefit Inventory in children (n=23), while Ho et al (2009)(18) reported the same benefit in adults (n=93). Thus, based on these numerous studies, bilateral devices may be considered medically necessary when there is bilateral conductive or mixed hearing loss with symmetric bone-conduction thresholds.

Efficacy of BAHA Devices for Unilateral Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Several centers have reported on findings from observational studies designed to evaluate the benefits of BAHA for patients with unilateral sensorineural hearing loss, or SSD. Most of these studies have been retrospective. In 2014, Peters et al reported results from a systematic review of the use of BAHA devices with contralateral routing of sound systems for SSD.(19) The authors included 6 studies that met eligibility
criteria, 5 of which were considered to have moderate to high directness of evidence and low to moderate risk of bias. The 5 studies evaluated included a total of 91 patients and were noted to have significant heterogeneity in the populations included. For speech perception in noise, there was not consistent improvement with aided hearing over unaided hearing in all environments. All studies reported equal sound localization in the aided and unaided conditions, and quality-of-life measures were similar for the aided and unaided conditions.

In 1 prospective study conducted within a hospital auditory implant center in the United Kingdom, Pai et al (2012) reported significant improvement in the average score in all 3 sections (speech hearing, spatial hearing, other qualities) of the Speech, Spatial and Qualities of Hearing Scale (SSQ) questionnaire following a BAHA implant in 25 adult patients.(20)

Zeitler et al (2012) reported on a retrospective case series of 180 patients with SSD and residual hearing in the implanted ear who underwent unilateral or bilateral BAHA placement at a university medical center in the United States.(21) Significant improvement was reported in objective hearing measures (speech-innoise and monosyllabic word tests) following BAHA implantation. Subjective benefits from BAHA varied across patients according to results from the Glasgow Hearing Aid Benefit Profile, but patients with residual hearing in the affected ear tended toward improved satisfaction with their device postoperatively.(21) Nicolas et al (2013) undertook a retrospective review of 36 patients implanted with a BAHA within a university medical center in France.(22) Their results showed an improvement in speech perception in noise with the BAHA, but no improvement in sound localization based on a 2-year follow-up period.(22)

Baguley et al (2006) reviewed the evidence for contralateral BAHAs in adults with acquired unilateral sensorineural hearing loss.(23) None of the 4 controlled trials reviewed showed a significant improvement in auditory localization with the bone-anchored device. However, speech discrimination in noise and subjective measures improved with these devices; for these parameters, the BAHAs resulted in greater improvement than that obtained with the conventional AC contralateral routing of signal (CROS) systems. The authors of this review noted shortfalls in the studies reviewed.

Lin et al (2006) reported on use of BAHAs in 23 patients with unilateral deafness and noted that speech recognition in noise was significantly better with the BAHA device than with the AC CROS device.(24) While the report also commented that benefit was seen in those with moderate sensorineural hearing loss in the contralateral ear (25-50 dB), this conclusion was based on 5 patients. Larger studies are needed to support the use of BAHA for bilateral sensorineural hearing loss.

Two studies of BAHAs for congenital unilateral conductive hearing impairment are reported by Kunst et al. In a 2008 study, aided and unaided hearing was assessed in 20 patients using sound localization and speech recognition-in-noise tests.(25) Many patients showed unexpectedly good unaided performance; however, nonsignificant improvements were observed in favor of the BAHA. Six of 18 patients with a complete data set showed no improvement at all; however, compliance with BAHA use in this patient group was remarkably high, suggesting patient benefit. The same authors evaluated 10 adults and 10 children using 2 disability-specific questionnaires and found an overall preference for the BAHA over unaided hearing in several specific hearing situations.(26) Improvement on the Glasgow Children’s Benefit Inventory was most prominent in the learning domain. The 10 adults showed an already good score on the SSQ in the unaided situation.

In 2010, Gluth et al reported on 21 patients with profound unilateral sensorineural hearing loss followed for an average of 3.2 years after BAHA implantation.(27) Perceived benefits and satisfaction were reported to improve significantly in BAHA users, and 81% continued using the device long term. However, severe local skin reactions were frequently experienced (38% grade 2 and above).

Efficacy of BAHA Devices in Children Younger Than Age 5 Years

A 2008 review article noted that for children younger than age 5 years, other solutions (eg, a bone conductor with transcutaneous coupling) should be used.(28) This recommendation is in agreement with FDA clearance of the osseointegration implant only for children 5 years of age and older, and adults. This is reflected in the policy statements.

The BAHA device has been investigated in children younger than 5 years in Europe and the United Kingdom. A number of reports describe experience with preschool children or children with developmental issues that might interfere with maintenance of the device and skin integrity. A 2-stage procedure may be used in young children. In the first stage, the fixture is placed into the bone and allowed to fully develop osseointegration. After 3 to 6 months, a second procedure is performed to connect the abutment through the skin to the fixture.

Marsella et al (2012) have reported on their center’s experience in Italy with pediatric BAHA from the inception of their program in 1995 to December 2009.29 A total of 47 children (21 females, 26 males) were implanted; 7 of these were younger than 5 years. The functional gain was significantly better with BAHA than with conventional bone-conduction hearing aids, and there was no significant difference in terms of
functional outcome between the 7 patients receiving a BAHA at an age younger than 5 years and the rest of the patient cohort. Based on these findings, the study authors suggested that implantation of children at an age younger than 5 years can be conducted safely and effectively in such settings.(29) The conclusions are limited by the small number of children younger than 5 years of age in the study and the
limited power to detect a difference between younger and older children.

Davids et al (2007) at the University of Toronto provided BAHA devices to children younger than 5 years of age for auditory and speech-language development and retrospectively compared surgical outcomes for a study group of 20 children younger than 5 years and a control group of 20 older children.(30) Children with cortical bone thickness greater than 4 mm underwent a single-stage procedure. The interstage
interval for children having 2-stage procedures was significantly longer in the study group to allow implantation in younger patients without increasing surgical or postoperative morbidity. Two traumatic fractures occurred in the study group versus 4 in the older children. Three younger children required skin site revision. All children were wearing their BAHA devices at the time of writing. McDermott et al (2008) reported on the role of BAHAs in children with Down syndrome in a retrospective case analysis and postal survey of complication rates and quality-of-life outcomes for 15 children aged 2 to 15 years.(31) All patients were using their BAHA devices after a 14-month follow-up. No fixtures were lost; skin problems were encountered in 3 patients. All 15 patients had improved social and physical functioning, attributed to
improved hearing.

Safety and Adverse Events Related to Bone-Anchored Hearing Aids

In addition to the literature evaluating the effectiveness of BAHA devices in improving hearing, a number of studies have evaluated or reported specifically on complications related to BAHAs.

In 2013, Kiringoda et al reported on a meta-analysis of complications related to BAHA implants. Included in the meta-analysis were 20 studies that evaluated complication in 2134 adult and pediatric patients who received a total of 2310 BAHA implants.(32) While the quality of available studies was considered poor and lacking in uniformity, complications related to BAHA implants were mostly minor skin reactions. The
incidence of Holgers grade 2 to 4 skin reactions was 2.4% to 38.1% in all studies (grade 2, red and moist tissue; grade 3, granulation tissue; and grade 4, infection leading to removal of the abutment). The incidence of failed osseointegration was 0% to 18% in adult and mixed population studies and 0% to 14.3% in pediatric population studies. The incidence of revision surgery was 1.7% to 34.5% in adult and mixed population studies and 0.0% to 44.4% in pediatric population studies. Implant loss occurred in 1.6% to 17.4% in adult and mixed population studies and in 0.0% to 25% in pediatric studies.

In 2012, Dun et al assessed soft tissue reactions and implant stability of 1132 percutaneous titanium implants for bone-conduction devices through a retrospective survey of 970 patients undergoing implants between September 1988 and December 2007 at the University Medical Center in the Netherlands.(33) Study investigators also examined device usage and comparisons between different patient age groups
(children, adults, elderly patients) over a 5-year follow-up period. Implant loss was 8.3%. In close to 96% of cases, there were no adverse soft tissue reactions. Significantly more soft tissue reactions and implant failures were observed in children compared with adults and elderly patients (p<0.05). Implant survival was less in patients with mental retardation compared with patients without mental retardation (p=0.001).(33)

In 2010, Hobson et al reviewed complications of 602 patients at a tertiary referral center over 24 years and compared their observed rates to those published in 16 previous studies.(34) The overall observed complication rate of 23.9 % (144/602) is similar to other published studies (complication rate, 24.9%±14.85). The most common complications were soft tissue overgrowth, skin infection, and fixture dislodgement. The observed rate of revision surgery of 12.1% (73/602) was also similar to previously published rates of 12.7%. Top reasons for revision surgery were identical to observed complications. In 2011, Wallberg et al reported on the status of 150 implants placed between 1977 and 1986 and followed for a mean of 9 years.(35) Implants were lost in a total of 41 patients (27%). Reasons for implant loss were: removal in 16 patients, osseointegration failure in 17 patients, and direct trauma in 8 patients. In the remaining 132 patients with implant survival, BAHAs were still being used by 119 patients (90%) at the end of follow-up. For children, implant complications were even more frequent, as reported by Kraai et al (2011) in a follow-up evaluation of 27 implants placed in children ages 16 years or younger between 2002 and 2009.36 In this retrospective report, soft tissue reactions occurred in 24 patients (89%); removal of the implant or revision surgery was required in 10 patients (37%); 24 patients (89%) experienced soft tissue overgrowth and infection; and 7 patients (26%) experienced implant trauma. Chronic infection and overgrowth at the abutment prevented use of the implant in 3 patients (11%).

In 2014, Allis et al conducted a prospective observational cohort study with a retrospective historical control to evaluate complication rates of skin overgrowth, infection, and the need for revision surgery associated with a BAHA implant with a longer (8.5 mm) abutment.(37) Twenty-one subjects were treated with the 8.5 mm abutment implant from 2011 to 2012 and were compared with 23 subjects treated with a 5.5-mm abutment implant from 2010 to 2011. Groups were generally similar at baseline, with the exception that the 8.5 mm abutment implant patients were older (62 years vs 48 years, p=0.012). Patients in the longer abutment group were less likely to experience infection (10% vs 43%; p=0.02), skin overgrowth (5% vs 41%; p=0.007), and need for revision (10% vs 45%; p=0.012).

Also in 2014, Calvo Bodnia et al reported results from a retrospective cohort study of patients implanted with a BAHA implant at a single center from 2004 to 2012, with a focus on implant loss, adverse skin reactions, skin overgrowth, and discomfort leading to device removal.(38) The authors reviewed 185 implantations in 176 patients. Ten patients were younger than 16 years (11 implantations), 117 were between 17 to 64 years (121 implantations), and 49 patients were between 65 and 86 years (53 implantations). Adverse skin reactions occurred in 14% of patients, and spontaneous implant loss occurred in 3.8%, at a mean of 2.5 years. The abutment was removed because of discomfort and/or no benefit in 10% overall.

In another retrospective cohort study, Rebol reported skin/soft tissue reactions for 47 patients implanted with BAHA devices.(39) Over 9 years of follow-up, the percentage of patients with skin inflammation of 2 or greater on Holger’s skin inflammation grading system ranged from 6% to 22%. Three patients with grade 4 inflammation required fitting of a longer abutment due to skin thickening.

In a large retrospective cohort study of 763 BAHA implants in 571 patients treated at a single institution from 1977 to 2011, Larsson et al (2014) reported on rates of implant loss and removal.(40) A total of 141 implants (18%) were lost over a mean follow-up of 6.6 years, 109 (14%) due to loss of osseointegration and 21 (3%) due to trauma, with 11 elective removals.

Different techniques for surgically implanting BAHA devices and specific BAHA designs are under investigation to yield improved safety outcomes. Fontaine et al (2014) compared complication rates after 2 different surgical techniques for BAHA implantation among 32 patients treated from 2004 to 2011.(41) Complications requiring surgical revision occurred in 20% of cases who underwent a skin flap implantation method (n=20) and in 38% of cases who underwent a full-thickness skin graft implantation method (n=21; p=0.31). Hultcrantz et al (2014) reported shorter surgical times and fewer cases of numbness and peri-implant infections in 12 patients treated with a non-skin-thinning technique, compared with 24 patients treated with either a flap or dermatome implantation technique.(42) In a comparison of 2 types of BAHA devices, one with a 4.5 mm diameter implant with a rounded 6 mm abutment (n=25) and one with a 3.75 mm diameter implant with a conically shaped 5.5 mm abutment (n=52), Nelissen et al (2014) reported that implant survival was high for both groups over 3 years of follow-up, although the conically shaped abutment had greater stability.(43) Singam et al (2014) reported results of a BAHA implantation technique without soft tissue reduction in conjunction with a longer device abutment in 30 patients.(44) While 25 patients had no postoperative complications, 3 developed pain requiring soft tissue reduction.

Partially Implantable Magnetic Bone-Conduction Hearing Aids

In 2011, Seigert reported on the use of a partially implantable bone-conduction hearing system (Otomag) that uses magnetic coupling for transcutaneous acoustic transmission.(45) This hearing system is reported to have been implanted in more than 100 patients followed in the past 5 years, but results are only presented on 12 patients. Although acoustics must pass through the skin rather than directly stimulate bone through a percutaneous abutment as in the BAHA-type implants, Seigert reported reduction in sound attenuation of less than 10 dB. Preliminary results of the partially implantable hearing system in 8 unilaterally and 4 bilaterally implanted patients showed average hearing gains of 31.2±8.1 dB in free-field pure-tone audiogram. The free-field suprathreshold speech perception at 65 dB increased from 12.9%preimplantation to 72.1% postimplantation.

In 2013, Hol et al reported on a comparison of BAHA percutaneous implants with partially implantable magnetic transcutaneous bone-conduction hearing implants using the Otomag Sophono device in 12 pediatric patients, ranging in age from 5 to 12 years, who had congenital unilateral CHL.(46) Sound field thresholds, speech recognition threshold, and speech comprehension at 65 dB were somewhat better in patients with the BAHA implant (n=6) than with the partially implantable hearing implant (n=6). Using a skull simulator, output was 10 to 15 dB less with the partially implantable device than with the BAHA device.

O’Niel et al (2014) reported outcomes for 10 pediatric patients with CHL treated with the Otomag Sophono device at a single center.(47)
A total of 14 ears were implanted with no surgical complications. The skin complication rate was 35.7%, including skin breakdown (n=2) and pain and erythema (n=5); negative outcomes resulted in 5 (36%) of 14 ears having significant enough difficulties to discontinue use for a period. The mean aided pure-tone average (PTA) was 20.2 dB hearing level, with a mean functional gain of 39.9 dB hearing level. Patients without skin complications consistently used their devices, with an average daily use of 8 to 10 hours.

Centric et al (2014) also reported outcomes for 5 pediatric patients treated with the Otomag Sophono device at a single center.(48) Etiologies of hearing loss were heterogeneous and included bilateral moderate or severe CHL and unilateral sensorineural hearing loss. The average improvement in PTA was 32 dB hearing level, and the average improvement in speech response threshold was 28 dB hearing level. All patients were responding in the normal to mild hearing loss range in the operated ear after device activation.

In a similar study, Marsella et al (2014) reported outcomes for 6 pediatric patients treated with the Otomag Sophono device at a single center.(49) All subjects had bilateral conductive or mixed hearing loss, and 3 had associated syndromes. Patients ranged in age from 5 to 17 years. Postoperatively, 1patient experienced ulceration of the skin under the magnet, which was successfully treated, and 1patient experienced pain associated with the device leading to discontinuation of device use. The median improvement in PTA was 33 dB hearing level and the median free-field pure tone average (0.5-3 kHz) with the device was 32.5 dB hearing level.

In addition to studies of currently FDA-approved partially implantable bone-conduction devices, a number of case series were identified which evaluate the BoneBridge implant, which is not currently cleared for marketing in the United States. Case series with at least 5 patients are summarized in Table 1.

Table 1: Case Series Evaluating the Bonebridge Implant



Patient Population

Main Hearing Results

Safety Outcomes

Riss et al (2014)50


Combined hearing loss (n=9)

EAC atresia (n=12)

SSD (n=3)

Average functional gain: 28.8 dB

Monosyllabic word scores at 65 dB sound pressure increased from 4.6-53.7 percentage points

Not reported

Manrique et al (2014)51


Mixed hearing loss (n=4)

SSD (n=1)

PTA improvement: 35.62 dB (p=0.01)

Disyllabic word discrimination improvement: 20% (p=0.016)

No perioperative complications reported

Ihler et al (2014)52


Mixed hearing loss (n=4)

CHL (n=2)

PTA functional gain (average, 0.5-4.0 kHz): 34.5 dB

Speech discrimination at 65 dB improvement:

In quiet: 63.3% percentage points

In noise: 37.5 percentage points

Prolonged wound healing in 1 case

Desmet et al (2014)53


All unilaterally deaf adults

Statistically significant improvement on Abbreviated Profile of Hearing Aid Benefit and Short Hearing Handicap

Inventory for Adults

Not reported

Iseri et al (2014)54


CHL (n=9)

“Primarily conductive hearing loss” (n=3)

Speech reception threshold increase: 19 dB

Postoperative hematoma requiring aspiration in 1 case

CHL: conductive hearing loss; EAC: external auditory canal; PTA: pure tone average; SSD: single-sided deafness.

Ongoing and Unpublished Clinical Trials

An online search of on December 17, 2014, found several ongoing studies related to bone-conduction hearing implant devices:

  • Comparison of BAHA and CROS Hearing Aid in Single-Sided Deafness (NCT01715948): This is a noncomparative interventional study of a unilateral BAHA device with contralateral routing of signals among patients with unilateral deafness. Enrollment is planned for 9 patients; the study completion date is listed as October 2013, but no published results have been identified.
  • Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Bone-anchored Hearing Aids (Baha) (NCT01264510): This is a nonrandomized, noninterventional phase 4, open-label study to evaluate the effectiveness of BAHAs for conductive or mixed hearing loss, or unilateral deafness. Enrollment is planned for 150 subjects; the estimated study completion date is August 2015.
  • Long Term Stability, Survival and Tolerability of a (Novel) Baha® Implant System (NCT02092610): This is a randomized, open-label trial to compare a novel BAHA implant with standard implants. The study’s primary outcome is implant stability. Enrollment is planned for 77 subjects; the estimated study completion date is January 2015.

Several studies were identified that will evaluate a partially implantable transcutaneous bone-conduction hearing implant:

  • Post-market Clinical Follow-up of a Magnetic Bone Conduction Implant (Cochlear Baha® Attract System) (NCT02022085): This is a nonrandomized safety/efficacy study to evaluate the BAHA Attract System in patients with conductive or mixed hearing loss in the ear to be implanted or with single-sided sensorineural deafness. Enrollment is planned for 52 subjects; the estimated study completion date is March 2015, with follow-up through April 2017.
  • Clinical Performance of a Transcutaneous Bone Conduction Hearing Solution (Baha® Attract System) (NCT01822119): This is a nonrandomized, single-arm study to evaluate the BAHA Attract System in patients with conductive or mixed hearing loss in the ear to be implanted or with single-sided sensorineural deafness. Enrollment is planned for 22 subjects; the estimated study completion date is listed as February 2014, but no published results were identified.
  • A Randomised Controlled Trial Comparing Bone Anchored Hearing Aid With Bonebridge (NCT01858246): This is a randomized, open-label trial to compare a conventional boneconduction hearing device with a new partially implantable transcutaneous bone-conduction hearing implant (Vibrant Bonebridge™) in patients with CHL. Enrollment is planned for 60 subjects; the estimated study completion date is January 2017.

Summary of Evidence

The available evidence for unilateral or bilateral implantable bone-conduction (bone-anchored) hearing aids consists of observational studies that report pre-post differences in hearing parameters after treatment with bone-anchored hearing aids (BAHAs). While this evidence is not ideal, it is sufficient to demonstrate improved net health outcome for patients 5 years of age or older in certain situations. The evidence supports the use of these devices in patients with conductive or mixed hearing loss who meet other medical and audiologic criteria. For patients with single-sided sensorineural deafness, a binaural hearing benefit may be provided by way of contralateral routing of signals to the hearing ear. There is evidence that bilateral devices improve hearing to a greater degree than do unilateral devices. BAHAs may be considered as an alternative to air-conduction devices in these patients and therefore, these devices may be considered medically necessary in these situations. Given the lack of both high-quality evidence and FDA approval, other uses of bone-conduction (bone-anchored) hearing aids, including use in children younger than 5 years and patients with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss, is considered investigational.

The available evidence for partially implantable magnetic bone-conduction hearing systems is preliminary and limited to small, single-center case series. Therefore, conclusions on net health outcomes cannot be made, and partially implantable bone-conduction hearing systems are considered investigational.

Practice Guidelines and Position Statements

The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery has a position statement on the use of implantable hearing devices that was revised in 2013 and states that the Academy “considers the implantation of a percutaneous or transcutaneous bone conduction hearing device, placement of a bone conduction oral appliance, and implantation of a semi-implantable hearing device or totally implantable hearing device to be acceptable procedures for the relief of hearing impairment when performed by, or in collaboration with, a qualified otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeon.”(55)

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendations
Not applicable.

Medicare National Coverage

No national coverage determination. The Medicare Benefit Policy Manual(56) references hearing aids and auditory implants, stating that hearing aids are excluded from coverage, including air-conduction and bone-conduction devices. However, devices which produce the perception of sound by replacing the function of the middle ear, cochlea, or auditory nerve are payable by Medicare as prosthetic devices. These devices are indicated only when hearing aids are medically inappropriate or cannot be utilized. Along with cochlear and auditory brainstem implants, the benefit manual specifically refers to osseointegrated implants as prosthetic devices. In 2014, Medicare clarified its hearing aid coverage to state that certain auditory implants, including cochlear implants, brain stem implants, and osseointegrated implants, do not meet the definition of hearing aids that are excluded from coverage.(57)


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  55. American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. Implantable Hearing Devices. Position Statements 2013; Accessed December 17, 2014.
  56. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Medicare Policy Benefit Manual. Chapter 16 - General Exclusions from Coverage. Rev. 189: Accessed December 17, 2014.
  57. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Fact sheets: CMS Updates Policies and Payment Rates for End- Stage Renal Disease Facilities for CY 2015 and Implementation of Competitive Bidding-Based Prices for Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies. 2014;
    Accessed December 17, 2014. 






CPT  See Policy Guidelines   
ICD-9 Procedure  20.95  Implantation of electromagnetic hearing device 
ICD-9 Diagnosis  380.15  Chronic mycotic otitis externa 
  380.16  Other chronic infective otitis externa NOS 
  380.23  Other chronic otitis externa NOS 
  380.52 Acquired stenosis of external ear canal secondary to surgery 
  381.3  Other and unspecified chronic non-suppurative otitis media 
  381.10–381.19  Chronic sensory otitis media code range 
  381.20–381.29  Chronic mucoid otitis media code range 
  382.0–382.9  Chronic suppurative and unspecified chronic otitis media code range 
  389.00–389.08  Conductive hearing loss code range 
  744.03  Anomaly of middle ear, except ossicles 
HCPCS L8690 Auditory osseointegrated device, includes all internal and external components
  L8691  Audotory osseointegrated device, external sound processor, replacement
  L8693 Auditory osseointegrated device abutment, any length, replacement only
ICD-10-CM (effective 10/1/15) H60.00 -H60.93 Otitis externa
   H61.30 -H61.399 Acquired stenosis of external ear canal code range
   H65.20 -H65.499;
H66.10 -H66.3x9
Chronic otitis media code range
   H90.0 -H90.8 Conductive and sensorineural hearing loss code range
   Q16.0 -Q16.9 Congenital malformations of ear causing impairment of hearing, code range
ICD-10-PCS (effective 10/1/15)   ICD-10-PCS codes are only used for inpatient services
   09HD051, 09HE051 Surgical, ear, nose & sinus, insertion, inner ear, open, hearing device, bone conduction, code for left or right
   0NH50SZ, 0NH53SZ, 0NH54SZ, 0NH60SZ, 0NH63SZ, 0NH64SZ Surgical, head & facial bones, insertion, temporal bone, hearing device, code by left or right, and approach (open, percutaneous, percutaneous endoscopic)
Type of Service  Surgery 
Place of Service  Outpatient 


Audiant™ Bone Conductor
Bone Anchored Hearing Aids, Semi-implantable
Hearing Aids, Bone Conduction, Implantable

Policy History  

Date Action Reason
12/01/95 Add to Surgery section New policy
07/31/97 Replace policy Reviewed with changes; description clarified
07/12/02 Replace policy Reviewed with changes; title changed to focus on category of implantable bone conduction hearing aids, as opposed to single device (i.e., Audiant). Policy statement unchanged, i.e., implantable bone conduction hearing aids may be considered medically necessary
12/17/03 Replace policy Policy reviewed by consensus without literature review; no changes in policy
09/27/05 Replace policy Policy statement revised to limit use to single sided deafness, consistent with FDA labeled indication. Audiologic criteria deleted
08/02/07 Replace policy Policy returned to active review status and updated with literature review through June 2007. Policy statements updated and clarified related to medically necessary unilateral and bilateral use in conductive hearing loss and in unilateral sensorineural hearing loss. Policy statement added concerning investigational uses, including bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. Reference numbers 5–11 added. Policy title changed to add “and Bone-Anchored” 
09/18/07 Replce policy-correction only Language added to Benefit Application section to clarify that the audiologic criteria apply to the affected ear.
10/07/08 Replace policy  Policy updated with literature review in September 2008; reference numbers 12 to 16 added. Policy statements unchanged.
01/13/11 Replace policy Policy revised with literature review. References 1, 4, 12, 13 and 21 added. Rationale rewritten. Audiologic criteria moved from policy guidelines to policy statement and revised to reflect FDA indications. Recommendation of presurgical trial of headband removed.
1/12/12 Replace policy Policy updated with literature review through November 2011; references 1-2, 7-8, 21, 25 added. Previous policy statements unchanged; added investigational policy statement for partially implantable hearing systems.
3/08/12 Replace policy- correction only Policy statements corrected by moving the "Otomag Alpha 1[M]" example to the investigational statememt.
1/10/13 Replace policy Policy updated with literature review through December 7, 2012. References 10, 16-18, 24 and 27 added; other references renumbered. Policy statements unchanged.
3/14/13 Replace policy -Correction only Policy No. 7.01.83 (archived 3/14/13) removed from Related Policies section
6/2013 Local policy created local policy to address Softband for children >5y.o. L8692
1/09/14 Replace policy Policy updated with literature review through December 13, 2013. References 3 and 33 added. Added “magnetic” and “BAHA Attract” to last policy statement but policy statements otherwise unchanged.
1/15/15 Replace policy Policy updated with literature review through December 2, 2014. References 3-5, 19, 36-43, 46-54, and 56 added. Policy statements unchanged. Rationale section reorganized.