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Pediatric Hearing Evaluation

iStock_000021967318SmallAt Fairbanks Hearing and Balance center we provide a full range of pediatric hearing evaluations to assess loss in infants and children of all ages. Our available tests include behavior observed and play audiometry, tympanometry, acoustic reflex, otoacoustic emissions (OAE) and auditory brainstem evoked response (ABR). Children can be tested at any age from birth onward. There are two primary categories of hearing testing which are utilized with children. Physiologic tests are those which rely upon non-behavioral responses from the child’s auditory system. Behavioral tests are those which rely upon responses from the child to obtain results. The younger the child is the more results are obtained through physiologic measures where the child remains passive.

Physiologic Tests

Physiologic Tests are used for children from birth and older, dependent upon the abilities and reliability of the child.

Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) is the primary screening tool utilized by hospitals for the Newborn Hearing Screening. A soft probe is placed in the child’s ear which delivers a sound to the ear and in return measures the echo response sounds emitted from the inner ear. The results are obtained in a pass/ fail format and do not provide specific information regarding hearing levels. This test not only provides very valuable information for hospital screening but is also routinely utilized in clinical settings.

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) is the primary diagnostic tool utilized to identify hearing loss in infants and older children who cannot reliably provide responses to behavioral tests. Unlike the OAE the ABR provides specific information regarding hearing levels. Electrodes are placed on the infant or child’s head while a soft probe is placed in the ear. The probe delivers sound to the auditory system and the electrodes record neurological responses from the hearing nerve and other auditory centers in the brainstem. These responses can be traced to the softest levels the infant or child is able to hear which allows the audiologist to identify the presence of a hearing loss.

Tympanometry and Acoustic reflexes are tools used to assess middle ear function and identify the presence of fluid (effusion), negative middle ear pressure, ossicular chain (middle ear bones) disruption, tympanic membrane (ear drum) perforation and otosclerosis. A soft probe is placed in the ear which delivers a safe measurable amount of sound and pressure. The middle ear system’s response to this sound and pressure is recorded.

Behavioral Tests

Used primarily for children six months and older.

Behavioral Observed Audiometry (BOA) utilized from approximately six months to three years of age-is a test where the infant or child is seated on a parent’s lap in a sound treated room. Sounds are presented through speakers and the child’s responses, such as heard turning, are observed.

Play Audiometry utilized from approximately three years to five years of age-is a test where the child is conditioned to respond to sounds with a play task such as placing a block in a bucket after hearing tones through head phones.

Standard Audiometry utilized from five years of age and beyond-is a test where the child is instructed to raise their hand every time they hear the tone through head phones.

Whether an infant, toddler or grade schooler, our audiologists will make sure that both you and your child are comfortable as we conduct the pediatric hearing evaluation.

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