Otoacoustic Emissions Assessment

Inner ear and cochlea

Otoacoustic Emissions Testing

What are Otoacoustic Emissions?

Otoacoustic Emission (OAE) Audiometry is an objective test administered to find out how well the inner ear and cochlea works. It is commonly used to assess younger children who have identified risk factors for future hearing concerns.

Otoacoustic emissions are soft sounds produced by a small part of the cochlea when it responds to gentle clicking sounds. As the cochlea is stimulated, the outer hair cells vibrate, resulting in a faint sound that echoes back into the middle ear.
What does a OAE test involve?
The OAE test is a quick non-invasive test involving a small ear tip positioned at the entrance of the ear canal which then records information of how well the hair cells in our inner ear respond to sound.
What is the primary purpose of a OAE test?

The primary purpose of a OAE test is to determine cochlear status, specifically hair cell function. This information can be used to:
1. Screen hearing (particularly in neonates, infants, or individuals with developmental disabilities)
2. Partially estimate hearing sensitivity within a limited range
3. Differentiate between the sensory and neural components of sensorineural hearing loss
4. Test for functional (feigned) hearing loss. The information can be obtained from patients who are sleeping or even comatose, because no behavioural response is required.

How should I prepare for the test?
During the test it is important that everyone in the room sit still and maintain a quiet environment. Be reassured, the test is painless, and you will not feel anything during the procedure.
How long does the test take?
The test typically lasts for just a few minutes.
How quickly can I get the results?
Once the hearing test is complete, your audiologist will present you with a thorough explanation of your test results, with plenty of opportunities for you to ask questions.

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