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Diagnostic Audiologic Evaluations

If you or your child has been referred for a diagnostic audiologic evaluation, it means that hearing loss needs to be ruled out or further examined. The diagnostic audiologic evaluation may be indicated for individuals who did not pass an initial hearing screening and are provided to determine the presence, type, degree, severity, causes and treatment plan.

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.

What Tests Will Be Done?

The specific tests done during the evaluation will depend on the patient’s age and what is known already about their hearing status. 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 determine if the hearing loss is conductive (middle or outer ear problem) or sensorineural (inner ear problem or central processing difficulty of the brain).

A diagnostic audiologic evaluations includes pure-tone testing, bone-conduction testing, and speech testing.

Pure-tone Air and Bone Conduction Testing

Pure-tone air conduction 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 air conduction testing. A different type of headphone is used during bone conduction testing, and the results help our audiologists determine if the hearing loss is originating from the outer/middle ear or from the inner ear.

Speech Testing

A speech reception threshold (SRT) test is often used with older children and adults to confirm the results of a pure-tone test. This test determines the lowest level at which the patient can recognize words or speech stimuli.

The audiologist may also perform otoscopy (examining the ear canal) and tympanometry (test of the middle ear) to determine the health of the ear canal and the middle ear.

Specialized tests exist for infants and young children, as well as children and adults with developmental and cognitive impairments. These more-specialized tests allow the audiologist to test the auditory system when the patient is not able to actively participate in the tests or evaluation.

Other tests may include:

  • Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) screening
  • Visual reinforcement and conditioned play audiometry for children

For children and adults, it is important to have a diagnostic audiologic evaluation whenever a hearing loss is suspected. It is the first step in identifying if there is a hearing loss present and to determine the proper and best course of action to improve your quality of life through better hearing.

Along with the evaluation, you should review the results with the audiologist. He or she can interpret the tests for you, answer the questions you will likely have, and provide you with information you need in order to hear the best you can.

Our audiologists are specialists in better hearing. Their commitment to hearing health care is proven in the thousands of people they have helped hear better over the past 20 years.