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Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) Evaluation

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) Evaluation

The Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) Evaluation is a test to measure how well each ear can pick up sounds. It also tells how well the hearing nerve sends the information to the brain. It is commonly done on infants and small children, or anyone who cannot cooperate with routine testing. Most children over the age of 6 months require some form of sedation or anesthesia in order to sleep through an ABR.

ABR testing is a harmless and painless procedure.

Common Reasons for ABR Testing

Some of the common reasons for ABR testing include:

  • A baby did not pass the hearing screening at the birth hospital
  • Recurrent ear infections
  • Speech or language delay
  • Exposure to medicine that may cause hearing loss
  • Parental or caregiver concern

Preparing for an ABR test

Testing is quicker and easier if your baby is sleeping comfortably. To make sure your child is able to sleep during the test, do not allow them to sleep. one to two hours before the test. If possible, delay feeding your baby until you arrive for the appointment. Bring a comfort item, such as a blanket, diapers and wipes, a change of clothes, and extra formula if used.

During an ABR Test

An audiologist, a professional who specializes in the diagnosis and management of hearing and balance disorders, performs the test.

During the ABR, a parent or caregiver may hold the child in their arms or have the child rest on a bed. The audiologist gently clean the skin on the child’s forehead and behind each ear. Small sensors are placed on those areas are then attached to a computer. Small earphones are placed in the ears once the child falls asleep or is very still and quiet. Sounds are sent through the earphones and the sensors measure the brain’s response to those sounds. These responses are studied to see whether the ears are detecting sounds.

The child is awakened when the test is finished. The audiologist will discuss the test results and any recommendations.

Preparing Your Child for a Sedated ABR test

For your child’s safety, his / her stomach must be empty before getting sedation or anesthesia. A nurse will usually call two to three days before the appointment to discuss the eating and drinking instructions. The nurse will also let you know what your child can eat and drink in the hours before the test.

During a Sedated ABR test

An audiologist performs the ABR while your child is sedated or under anesthesia. The child is closely watched by a nurse and anesthesiology staff during the ABR. Sedation / anesthesia is used because the child must stay asleep for the ABR. Once the child is asleep, the audiologist gently cleans the skin on his / her forehead and behind each ear and small sensors are placed on those areas. Sound is sent through the earphones and the sensors measure the brain’s response to those sounds. These responses are analyzed by the audiologist to see whether the ears are detecting the sound.

The child is awakened when the test is finished. The audiologist will discuss the test results and any recommendations.

Last Updated 07/2018

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