An important aspect of binaural hearing is the proper detection of interaural sound level differences and interaural timing differences. Assessments of binaural hearing were made in patients with acquired unilateral conductive hearing loss (UCHL, n = 11) or congenital UCHL (n = 10) after unilateral application of a bone conduction device (BCD), and in patients with bilateral conductive or mixed hearing loss after bilateral BCD application. Benefit (bilateral versus unilateral listening) was assessed by measuring directional hearing, compensation of the acoustic head shadow, binaural summation and binaural squelch. Measurements were performed after an acclimatization time of at least 10 weeks. Unilateral BCD application was beneficial, but there was less benefit in the patients with congenital UCHL as compared to patients with acquired UCHL. In adults with bilateral hearing loss, bilateral BCD application was clearly beneficial as compared to unilateral BCD application. Binaural summation was present, but binaural squelch could not be proven. To explain the poor results in the patients with congenital UCHL, two factors seemed to be important. First, a critical period in the development of binaural hearing might affect the binaural hearing abilities. Second, crossover stimulation, referring to additional stimulation of the cochlea contralateral to the BCD side, might deteriorate binaural hearing in patients with UCHL.
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