Audiological evaluation and self-assessed hearing problems in subjects with single-sided congenital external ear malformations and associated conductive hearing loss

Claudia Priwin, Radi Jönsson, Lennart Magnusson, Malou Hultcrantz, Gösta Granström
International Journal of Audiology 2007, 46 (4): 162-71
Previously, unilateral hearing impairment (UHI) has been considered of little consequence. However, a recent meta-analysis of children with UHI displayed educational and behavioural problems and possible delays of speech and language development. Further, patients with UHI consequently report hearing difficulties. Our study investigated hearing function, possible inner ear protection, and self-assessed hearing problems in 57 subjects aged between 3-80 years with single-sided congenital ear malformations and conductive UHI. Pure-tone thresholds and speech recognition (quiet, noise) were measured, and all patients completed a self-assessment questionnaire. Pure-tone thresholds corresponding to sensorineural function did not significantly differ between the normal (air conduction) and affected ear (bone conduction). However, speech recognition in both quiet and in noise was normal on the non-affected side but significantly worse on the malformed side. A moderate to high degree of self-assessed hearing problems were reported. In conclusion, hearing function in the affected ear was found to be subnormal in terms of supra threshold signal processing. Furthermore, a high degree of hearing difficulty was reported. Therefore, active treatment, surgery, or hearing amplification, might be considered.

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