Effectiveness of Auditory Measures for Detecting Hidden Hearing Loss and/or Cochlear Synaptopathy: A Systematic Review

Christi M Barbee, Jessica A James, Jin Hyung Park, Emily M Smith, Carole E Johnson, Shari Clifton, Jeffrey L Danhauer
Seminars in Hearing 2018, 39 (2): 172-209
Standard audiometric evaluations are not sensitive enough to identify hidden hearing loss (HHL) and/or cochlear synaptopathy (CS). Patients with either of these conditions frequently present with difficulty understanding speech in noise or other complaints such as tinnitus. The purpose of this systematic review is to identify articles in peer-reviewed journals that assessed the sensitivity of audiologic measures for detecting HHL and/or CS, and which showed potential for use in a clinical test battery for these disorders. A reference librarian submitted specific boolean terminology to MEDLINE, Embase, and Web of Science. The authors used a consensus approach with specially designed score sheets for the selection of titles, abstracts, and then articles for inclusion in the systematic review and for quality assessment. Fifteen articles were included in the systematic review. Seven articles involved humans; seven involved animals, and one study used both humans and animals. Results showed that pure-tone audiometry to 20 kHz, otoacoustic emissions, electrocochleography, auditory brainstem response (ABR), electrophysiological tests, speech recognition in noise with and without temporal distortion, interviews, and self-report measures have been used to assess HHL and/or CS. For HHL, ultra-high-frequency audiometry may help identify persons with sensory hair cell loss that does not show up on standard audiograms. Promising nonbehavioral measures for CS included ABR wave I amplitude, the summating potential-to-action potential ratio, and speech recognition in noise with and without temporal distortion. Self-report questionnaires also may help identify auditory dysfunction in persons with normal hearing.

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