Mini Review of the Cost-Effectiveness of Unilateral Osseointegrated Implants in Adults: Possibly Cost-Effective for the Correct Indication.
An osseointegrated implant (e.g. bone-anchored hearing aid, BAHA) is a surgically implantable device for unilateral sensorineural and unilateral or bilateral conductive hearing loss in patients who otherwise cannot use or do not prefer a conventional air conduction hearing aid (ACHA). The specific indications for an osseointegrated implant are evolving and dependent upon the country or regulatory body overseeing the provision of these devices. However, there are general groups of patients who would be likely to benefit, one such group being patients with congenital aural atresia. Given the anatomical aberrancies with aural atresia, these subjects cannot wear ACHAs. Another group of patients who may benefit from an osseointegrated implant over an ACHA are patients with chronically draining otological infections. As the provision of an osseointegrated implant requires a surgical procedure, there are inherent direct and indirect costs associated with its use beyond those required for an ACHA. Consideration of outcomes and cost-effectiveness for the osseointegrated implant versus the ACHA is prudent prior to making policy decisions in a setting of limited health care resources. We performed a mini review on all available cost-effectiveness analyses of osseointegrated implants published in Medline. There are only 2 contemporary cost-effectiveness analyses published to date. There is limited quality of life data available for patients living with an osseointegrated implant. As a result, the cost-effectiveness of the osseointegrated implant, specifically the BAHA, compared to conventional hearing aid devices remains unclear. However, there are clear indications for the BAHA when a standard hearing aid cannot be used (e.g. chronic draining ear) or in single-sided severe-to-profound hearing loss with reasonable hearing in the contralateral ear. The BAHA should not be considered interchangeable with the ACHA with regard to cost-effectiveness, but rather considered as an effective option for the patient for the correct indication.
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