Characteristics of transient evoked otoacoustic emissions in normal-hearing and hearing-impaired children

W A Harrison, S J Norton
Ear and Hearing 1999, 20 (1): 75-86

OBJECTIVE: Transient evoked otoacoustic emissions (TEOAEs) were measured in children with normal hearing and in children with hearing loss to investigate the characteristics of TEOAEs as they relate to overall amplitude and amplitude spectra of evoking stimuli, and to audiometric status.

DESIGN: Three parameters of response measure (signal to noise ratio, amplitude and reproducibility) were assessed to determine accuracy of identification of varying degrees of hearing loss for broadband clicks, frequency-specific click bands and tone bursts. Forty-four children (66 ears) between 4 and 13 yr of age were evaluated for participation in the study. Fifty-nine ears with intact tympanic membranes were included in the final analyses: 14 ears with normal hearing and 45 ears with hearing loss.

RESULTS: Children with normal hearing had robust responses that displayed nonlinear growth functions for broadband clicks and for tone bursts. Children with hearing loss had responses that decreased rapidly with decreasing stimulus level, if emissions were present at all. Data were analyzed using clinical decision analysis and receiver operator characteristic curves. Broadband clicks presented at 80 and 86 dB peSPL identified a hearing loss > or = 30 dB HL with a high degree of accuracy. Click responses filtered into octave bands centered at 500 and 1000 Hz did not improve classification of hearing loss, in fact, the 500 Hz band was particularly inaccurate. Results for click responses filtered into half-octave bands centered at 2000 and 4000 Hz were comparable with those for the broadband click, although the 2000 Hz band was superior for identification of hearing loss > or = 20 dB HL for an 80 dB peSPL click, and > or = 30 dB HL for an 86 dB peSPL click. Results for tone bursts centered at 500, 1000, 2000 and 4000 Hz, presented at 80 dB peSPL, were similar to results of the filtered click bands. Accuracy for identifying hearing loss increased with increasing center frequency. The 2000 and 4000 Hz tone bursts provided the best separation between normal-hearing and hearing-impaired ears, with 4000 Hz being slightly better.

CONCLUSIONS: Data from this study suggest that TEOAEs in children can separate ears with normal hearing from those with hearing loss using a variety of stimulus and response conditions. Moreover, by using multiple stimulus levels it may be possible to distinguish between mild and moderate hearing losses.


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