Diagnostic Evaluations

Diagnostic Services and Evaluations

We offer several diagnostic services for our patients, including Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) Evaluation, Auditory Processing Evaluations, Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing and Behavioral Testing.
The Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) Evaluation is a way to measure how well each ear can pick up sounds and how well the hearing nerve sends the information to the brain. The test does not require participation from the child. It is commonly done on infants and small children, or anyone who cannot or will not cooperate with routine testing.

Children will need to be asleep for the test. You can help us by not allowing your child to sleep during the two- to four-hour period preceding the test.

During the evaluation, you will be able to hold your child in your arms, or you may choose to have him rest on a bed. Most children will have sedation, which will be administered by mouth by a registered nurse. There are, however, circumstances in which an IV medication or anesthesia may be used. Before your child’s appointment, you will receive a phone call to discuss sedation or anesthesia.

Once your child is asleep, the skin on the forehead and behind each ear will be gently cleaned, and small sensors will be placed on those areas. The sensors will be attached to a special computer, and small earphones will be placed in the ears. Sounds will be presented though the earphones, and a computer will obtain brainwave activity. These waveforms are analyzed to determine whether the ears are detecting sounds.

When the test is finished, your child will be awakened, and the audiologist will discuss the test results and any necessary recommendations.

Audiologist Lisa Hilbert explains the auditory processing evaluations and tests performed at Cincinnati Children's.

Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing is a way to measure inner ear function. This test does not require that children tell or show that sounds are heard. Therefore, this test may be used to screen an infant’s hearing or on anyone who cannot or will not cooperate with routine testing.

The test is conducted by inserting a small probe into the ear canal and presenting a series of clicks or tones. Otoacoustic emissions are “echoes” emitted by the choclea (organ of hearing) in response to these sounds. The “echo” is measured with the probe in the ear canal and recorded by the audiologist.
Ages 6 months to 2 years: Your child is trained to listen to sounds with use of animated toys. When your child turns her head in the direction of a sound, she is rewarded with the lighted toys.

Ages 2 to 4 years: Your child is taught to play a game in response to sounds. For example, your child is taught to put an object in a specific place when a sound is heard (place a peg into a pegboard, throw a ball into a bucket).

Ages 4 years and older: Your child is taught to raise his hand or press a response button upon hearing a sound.

Patients and Families

We provide patients and families with several resources, including a glossary of terms, answers to frequently asked questions and links to online resources from the state and national levels. Read more