Electrophysiological tests assess the inner ear. When the outer hair cells in the cochlea are stimulated, they not only send information onward towards the brain, but also transmit a response backwards through the ossicles and eardrum into the external ear canal. The otoacoustic emissions (OAE) test takes advantage of this fact. This type of test is also used for newborn hearing screening. The OAE test is particularly good in assessing patients with ototoxicity or acoustic trauma where damage to the outer hair cells may have occurred.
A computerized hearing test called “Auditory Brainstem Response” (ABR) audiometry is helpful in determining the site of an inner ear or brainstem hearing disorder. It’s also used to evaluate degree of hearing loss in people who can’t respond to standard hearing tests.
The inner ear and the 8th cranial nerve also include the balance (vestibular) system. Because of this, many ear diseases affect balance and can cause dizziness, imbalance, or vertigo (spinning dizziness). Tests of the balance system may be necessary to determine the cause of your hearing loss.
The vestibular (balance) system monitors the position and movements of the head to stabilize retinal images so you can see properly. This information is integrated with thevisual system. So problems with the balance system often produce involuntary
movements of the eyes.
“Videonystagmography” (VNG) uses goggles that cover the face and contain a video camera to record eye movements. Posturography is a test that uses a computer to help record input to the balance system from the four components of balance: ears, eyes, muscle-joint sense (proprioception), and brain.
At House Clinic, we offer the latest electrophysiological testing to help assess and diagnose inner ear disorders. Dr. Manny Don, a renowned scientist from the House ear Institute, is developing new tests, such as CHAMP and Stacked ABR, which can be used to assess hearing disorders.