If you have been referred for a diagnostic audiologic evaluation, it means that your hearing needs to be further examined. The evaluation is done to determine if a hearing loss is present and, if so, to detail the type and severity of the hearing loss. It also may provide insight into the cause of the hearing loss as well as provide guidance for the audiologist in making appropriate treatment recommendations or referrals to other professionals.
What tests will be done?
The specific tests done during the evaluation will depend on the patient’s age, symptoms and medical history. These various tests will determine the degree of hearing loss, the type of hearing loss and the conditions of the ear canal and middle ear. The audiologist will also establish if the hearing loss is conductive (middle or outer ear problem) or sensorineural (inner ear problem or an issue with the auditory nerve and central auditory pathways).
At a minimum, a diagnostic audiologic evaluation includes pure-tone testing, bone conduction testing and speech testing.
Pure-tone and bone conduction testing
Pure-tone testing determines the quietest tones that a person can hear at different frequencies, both low and high. Bone conduction testing is similar to pure-tone, however, a different type of headset is used to provide the audiologist with different information. A bone conduction test will help the audiologist determine whether the loss is conductive in nature or sensorineural.
A speech reception threshold (SRT) test is used to confirm the results of a pure-tone test. This test determines the lowest level of sound the patient can clearly identify words or speech. Word recognition testing is an additional speech test used to determine a patient’s ability to understand speech at a conversational or elevated level in quiet.
The audiologist may also perform otoscopy (physical examination of the outer ear and, ear canal and eardrum) and tympanometry (test of the middle ear) to determine the health of the ear canal and the middle ear.
Visual reinforcement audiometry and conditioned play audiometry are testing procedures used to test children’s hearing sensitivity. These tests include specific age appropriate testing methods suited for children.