A WOMAN can hear for the first time in 40 years after she received the UKs first totally implanted hearing aid. The Otologics 'Carina middle ear implant device consists of a rechargeable battery, a signal processor and a microphone which are all implanted under the skin. These are connected to a tiny electromagnetic vibrator which is positioned inside the mastoid bone behind the ear and attaches to the hearing bones. There is nothing on the outside of the head and the ear canal is left open. Denise Westgate, 49, from Havant in Hampshire received the aid thanks to work from the South of England Cochlear Implant Centre, based at the University of Southampton. She said: 'I was nervous about being the guinea pig for this operation, but it has changed my life completely. In past aids, the microphone and battery were on the outside of the patient, held in place over the implanted part of the device by a magnet. This was prone to being knocked off or damaged or getting wet. When the external part was removed at night or in the shower, the patient could no longer hear. The new implant - placed at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth by consultant otolaryngologist, Mike Pringle - is suitable for people with moderate to severe hearing losses who are unable to gain benefit from conventional hearing aids because of ear canal infections, allergies to ear moulds or a closed ear canal. DM