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What is an ABR?

An Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) or Electrocochleography (ECOG) test are recommended if you experience any of the following symptoms in one or both ears: trouble following conversations, hearing noises in your ears, experiencing a sensation of fullness or having balance problems.  The audiologist has already completed a variety of tests to assess your hearing and results suggest further assessment is warranted. The ABR evaluates the integrity of the hearing pathway. The ECOG evaluates fluid pressure in the inner ear (cochlea).

Adult Testing

Electrodes are placed on the forehead and earlobes for the ABR; for the ECOG, they are placed on the forehead and the eardrum.  During the test, you will relax in a recliner. While sleep is not required, it is helpful to the process. A series of sounds are presented to each ear through insert earphones. The electrodes will detect responses that are then analyzed by the audiologist.   The test may take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes.

In order to achieve the best test results, you should follow these instructions.

  1. Dress comfortably
  2. Wash your face thoroughly to remove any make-up, cream or lotion.
  3. Please use the restroom prior to the test.

Pediatric Testing

An ABR is used to provide a comprehensive hearing evaluation for newborns who perform poorly on a hearing screening or if hearing loss is a concern. An ABR is a test that evaluates the function of the hearing pathway, from the ear to the brainstem, without the need for the child to respond.  

In order to perform this evaluation, your child must sleep throughout the test.  Test results are not accurate if the child is alert. It is best to schedule the evaluation during your child’s usual nap time.  The test will take approximately 2 hours.

Please keep your child awake until the appointment so that sleep during the test is possible. This may require you to have someone with you to keep the child awake on the car ride.

 When you arrive for your appointment, you will be taken to an exam room where we will prepare for the test. During preparation, we will scrub your child’s skin and place electrodes on your child’s forehead, on each ear and on the back of the neck. This procedure does not hurt.  You will be able to feed your baby after preparation.

Once your child is asleep, earphones will be placed in your child’s ears that will present different tones and clicks. There will not be any discomfort during the test. Most babies sleep through the test. Bring anything you need to help your child sleep; blankets, pacifiers, diaper change, etc.  The more peacefully the baby sleeps the easier and faster it is to collect the data needed to determine hearing status. If your child does not remain asleep for the test, another test will need to be scheduled for a different day.

Due to the complexity of this evaluation and the time allotted for the test, please contact our office right away if you are not able to keep your appointment. If you have questions or concerns please feel free to contact our office.

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