Envoy Medical, a company based in White Bear Lake, MN was founded in 1995 to develop a fully-implantable hearing system to correct sensorineural hearing loss. Their Esteem implantable device has three components:
- Esteem Sensor
- Esteem Sound Processor
- Esteem Driver
In operation, sound enters the outer ear and funnels down the ear canal causing the eardrum to vibrate. All as it naturally would. The Esteem Sensor then converts the vibrations into electrical signals that are sent to the implanted Esteem Sound Processor. The Esteem Sound Processor receives, adjusts, and amplifies the signals to fit the patient’s unique hearing needs. The Esteem Driver then translates these processed signals into vibrations that are transferred to the inner ear where the cochlea cells are stimulated.
The battery in the Esteem device last 4.5 to 9 years, after which surgical replacement of the Esteem Sound Processor is required. If continuously exposed to loud noises however, battery life may be reduced to as short as 2.8 years.
A Personal Programmer lets patients make adjustments for the specific hearing situation
Envoy Medical gained CE approval for the Esteem system in 2006, and FDA approval in March 2010. Esteem is not currently covered by Medicare or Medicaid, and is not widely covered by private insurers.