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Auditory Brainstem Response Testing

After a hearing test is administered, the hearing professional will review it to determine if there are any inconsistencies between ears. If you have any of the following symptoms you will be referred for further testing or medical intervention prior to receiving hearing loss treatment. 

  • An asymmetrical hearing loss 
  • A difference in speech understanding between ears
  • A Sudden Hearing Loss
  • Unilateral tinnitus
  • Acute onset tinnitus

Depending on the severity of the hearing loss in question, an Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) test can be performed by an audiologist to assess the function of the auditory pathways to the brain. This objective test will further determine the cause of the hearing loss and rule out the possibility of such conditions as an acoustic tumor or auditory neuropathy. 

Auditory Brainstem Response testing is a non-invasive procedure that can take roughly 30 to 60 minutes depending on the protocol being used. In addition to determining the integrity of the neural pathways, ABRs can also be administered to more accurately determine the hearing sensitivity of both pediatric and difficult to test populations. Furthermore, ABRs have become the gold standard for Universal Newborn Hearing Screenings and are widely used in hospitals around the country. 

How is the test performed?

Electrodes are inserted on your forehead and behind each ear. Insert headphones are placed in both ears. Each ear will be tested individually. The audiologist will request that you remain still and keep your eyes closed until the procedure is completed. A chirp like sound is presented at a loud level twice in each ear. The sound will occur for roughly 45 seconds. For threshold testing, the sound will be presented at lower levels to determine the lowest level audible to the patient. The patient does not respond to the sound and in most cases overhead lights and equipment will be turned off as to not interfere with testing.