Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Hearing Test Can Improve Diagnosis Of Middle Ear Disorders

Date:
November 23, 1999
Source:
Ohio University
Summary:
A new test developed by a Nebraska researcher and studied by scientists at Ohio University could offer doctors a better diagnostic tool for middle ear infections and other hearing disorders than currently available exams.

Contact: Andrea Gibson, (740) 597-2166.

ATHENS, Ohio – A new test developed by a Nebraska researcher and studied by scientists at Ohio University could offer doctors a better diagnostic tool for middle ear infections and other hearing disorders than currently available exams.

The technique, called wide-band reflectance, could help clinicians understand how middle ear infection, hardening of the ear bones, facial nerve paralysis or other middle ear disorders impact a patient's hearing at various frequencies.

Unlike the commonly used audiogram, the new technique doesn't rely on patients to respond to a series of tones. That's a problem with small children highly prone to middle ear infection who may be unable to accurately participate in a hearing test.

In 34 patients with normal hearing, the wide-band reflectance test detected an acoustic reflex the middle ear's reaction to loud sounds at least 10 decibels lower on average than the standard hearing test, says Ohio University audiologist Patrick Feeney, who presented the study findings Friday at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's annual convention in San Francisco.

The findings indicate that doctors can use softer sounds in the ear canal to make a diagnosis. Some traditional exams may expose patients to intense noise during testing, which has reportedly caused hearing loss in rare cases, says Feeney, an assistant professor of hearing and speech sciences.

When the middle ear is exposed to loud sounds, the muscle contracts, which audiologists believe is a defense mechanism to protect against hearing damage. When the muscle doesn't contract, doctors suspect that the patient could be suffering from a middle ear disorder.

"If we can indicate that a person's reflex is present, it indicates that the middle ear is working well, that the facial nerve -- which innervates the muscle -- is working and that the person has a functional hearing nerve," Feeney says.

However, the traditional clinical exam, which uses a single, low-frequency 226 hertz tone to gauge the ear's health, doesn't always offer the whole picture. This test might show that a patient has no acoustic reflex. But the wide-band reflectance technique, which measures how the middle ear reacts to frequencies ranging from 250 hertz to 8,000 hertz, could show that the ear does have a reflex when measured at higher frequencies, Feeney says. That could lead to a more accurate diagnosis of and treatment for the patient's problem.

Another advantage to this new technique: A patient complaining of a middle ear problem might have a normal reading using conventional tests, but using wide-band reflectance could confirm the disorder at higher frequencies than detected through the traditional tympanogram exam.

"The reflectance technique allows the audiologist to measure the function of the middle ear over the frequency range important for hearing speech," he says.

The wide-band reflectance technique, developed by Douglas Keefe of the Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha, Neb., uses a series of eight chirping sounds emitted into the ear canal to determine how well the middle ear reacts to sounds that span the human speech range. Computer software analyzes the data, graphing the middle ear's performance. The procedure takes only a few seconds.

In the recent study, Feeney used wide-band reflectance to trigger a middle ear reaction an average 10.9 decibels lower than the traditional clinical method. The research grew out of an initial wide-band reflectance study on three subjects, published in October in the Journal of Speech-Language-Hearing Research.

Though Keefe developed the wide-band reflectance method in 1992, research into its clinical applications is still under way. Feeney is using the technique to study patients with otitis media, or middle ear infections, and to determine what impact aging has on the middle ear.

The research on wide-band reflectance was funded by a grant from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation. Feeney holds an appointment in the College of Health and Human Services.

-30-

Written by Andrea Gibson.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ohio University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Ohio University. "New Hearing Test Can Improve Diagnosis Of Middle Ear Disorders." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 November 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/11/991123075754.htm>.
Ohio University. (1999, November 23). New Hearing Test Can Improve Diagnosis Of Middle Ear Disorders. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/11/991123075754.htm
Ohio University. "New Hearing Test Can Improve Diagnosis Of Middle Ear Disorders." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/11/991123075754.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Aimed at reducing sexual assaults on college campuses, California has adopted a new law changing the standard of consent for sexual activity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Researchers looked at 1,500 blood samples and determined people who developed pancreatic cancer had more branched chain amino acids. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins