Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) tests measure reactions of the auditory nerve in response to stimuli. It is a popular method to screen for hearing loss, especially for infants and young children who are not old enough for behavioral response hearing screenings.

How Is an ABR Test Performed?

An ABR test takes one to two hours. During the test, a young child must be asleep. Older children are sometimes sedated in order to relax.

When conducting the test, an audiologist places electrodes on the child’s forehead and ears. The electrodes are connected to a computer to monitor brain activity. The child will wear a pair of earphones and the audiologist will play a series of tones through them. These tones cover a broad range of frequency levels.

After the test, the computer prints a report indicating how the child’s auditory nerve responded to each pitch. While the test is not comprehensive enough to be used to prescribe or fit hearing aids, it does indicate whether or not hearing loss is present.

What Steps Can I Take for a Successful ABR Test?

For babies under six months old, they should show up tired and hungry. Try to disrupt their sleep schedule so they’re ready to nap during the appointment, and hold off on feedings until just before the appointment. The test can be conducted with the baby either in your arms or in a crib.

For children six months to seven years, anesthesia may be necessary to get the child to sleep through the test. When this is recommended, be sure to carefully follow the doctor’s instructions for eating and drinking before the test. If they are not followed, the appointment may need to be rescheduled.

For children older than seven, they can be tested while awake if they relax and remain still during the test. If the child is unable to relax, the test may be rescheduled and anesthesia used.

Call ENT Specialists of Metairie at (504) 889-5335 for more information or to schedule an appointment.