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Audiology: ABR testing

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) testing is an electrophysiological test that’s used to test hearing in newborns, or anyone unable to participate in behavioral audiometry testing (i.e., raising your hand when you hear a beep).

It’s done by attaching electrodes to the ears and forehead, and sound is played into the ears using insert earphones. The electrodes track the auditory nerves response to the sound. The audiologist will decrease the sound level of the stimulus played into the ears until a response is no longer detected from the auditory nerve. This allows the audiologist to find the threshold of sound to which the brain stops responding, meaning the lowest level the patient can hear at different frequencies.

ABR testing allows providers to get an accurate picture of how the infant is hearing, as they are too young to participate in behavioral testing.

This fully diagnostic test is most commonly used for:

  • Infants who fail their newborn hearing screening in the hospital, either in one ear or both ears
  • A screening for adults to identify retro-cochlear lesions (most often tumors) if they’re unable to undergo MRI imaging
  • Patients who are unable to participate in behavioral testing, such as patients with developmental delays, special needs, cognitive issues, or physical limitations

This testing is currently only offered at Mercyhealth McHenry. Please call (815) 344-4499 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Heather Lemajeur, AuD, CCC-A in the audiology department.