The Mechanical Impedance of the Human Skull via Direct Bone Conduction Implants
Journal article, 2020

Purpose: The mechanical skull impedance is used in the design of direct bone drive hearing systems. This impedance is also important for the design of skull simulators used in manufacturing, service, and fitting procedures of such devices. Patients and Methods: The skull impedance was measured in 45 patients (25 female and 20 male) who were using percutaneous bone conduction implants (Ponto system or Baha system). Patients were recruited as a consecutive prospective case series and having an average age of 55.4 years (range 18-80 years). Seven patients were treated in Gothenburg, Sweden, and 38 patients in Edmonton, Canada. An impedance head (B&K 8001), driven by an excitation transducer with emphasized low-frequency response, was used to measure the mechanical point impedance with a swept sine from 100 to 10k Hz. Results and Discussion: The skull impedance was found to have an anti-resonance of approximately 150 Hz, with a median maximum magnitude of 4500 mechanical ohms. Below this anti-resonance, the mechanical impedance was mainly mass-controlled corresponding to an effective skull mass of 2.5 kg at 100 Hz with substantial damping from neck and shoulder. Above the anti-resonance and up to 4 kHz, the impedance was stiffness-controlled, with a total compliance of approximately 450n m/N with a small amount of damping. At frequencies above 4 kHz, the skull impedance becomes gradually mass-controlled originating from the mass of the osseointegrated implant and adjacent bone. No significant differences related to gender or skull abnormalities were seen, just a slight dependence on age and major ear surgeries. The variability of the mechanical impedance among patients was not found to have any clinical importance. Conclusion: The mechanical skull impedance of percutaneous implants was found to confirm previous studies and can be used for optimizing the design and test procedures of direct bone drive hearing implants.

percutaneous hearing implants

mechanical impedance

bone anchored hearing aid

bone conduction


Bo Håkansson

Chalmers, Electrical Engineering, Signal Processing and Biomedical Engineering

Fausto Woelflin

University of Alberta

Anders Tjellstrom

University of Gothenburg

William Hodgetts

University of Alberta

Medical Devices: Evidence and Research

1179-1470 (ISSN)

Vol. 13 293-313

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