Objective: To characterize the use of bone conduction hearing devices (BCHD) for hearing management in children with unilateral congenital aural atresia (CAA) at a tertiary pediatric center's microtia clinic while assessing challenges in acquisition. BCHD generally provides better audiologic outcomes than atresiaplasty in pediatric CAA. BCHD is formally recommended for only bilateral CAA, although literature has begun to show benefit in unilateral CAA.
Methods: A retrospective case series of patients born between 2014 and 2018 with unilateral microtia at an urban tertiary care children's hospital collected information on demographics, CAA laterality, hearing loss (HL) severity, management, and acquisition. Statistical analysis aided characterization of BCHD use.
Results: 131 patients (65% males) were included with a mean age of 3.5 years. 108 (82%) patients with unilateral microtia were used for further analysis, and right sided microtia was most common (67.6%). Of patients with auditory brain response (ABR) testing available, 70% demonstrated conductive HL, 16% mixed HL, 1% sensorineural HL, 6% no HL secondary to grade 1 microtia, and 7% were pending evaluation. Overall, 46 (42.6%) patients with unilateral microtia obtained a BCHD. 68.7% of those offered a BCHD after ABR opted for acquisition. The average length of time from offer to fit was about 6 months.
Conclusion: Even with thorough consultation and follow up, less than half of the patients with unilateral CAA received a BCHD. Missed initial ABR appointments that lead to BCHD recommendation seem to be the greatest limiting factor, while demographics did not play a confounding role. Family education and future research on obstacles preventing BCHD use in unilateral CAA will help standardize management and improve hearing within this critical auditory period.
Keywords: Bone conduction hearing device (BCHD); Conductive/rehabilitation; Congenital aural atresia (CAA); Hearing loss; Microtia.
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