Evaluation of Speed and Accuracy of Next-Generation Auditory Steady State Response and Auditory Brainstem Response Audiometry in Children With Normal Hearing and Hearing Loss

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Abstract

Objectives:

The first objective of this study was to compare the predicted audiometric thresholds obtained by auditory steady state response (ASSR) and auditory brainstem response (ABR) in infants and toddlers when both techniques use optimal stimuli and detection algorithms. This information will aid in determining the basis for large discrepancies in ABR and ASSR measures found in past studies. The hypothesis was that advancements in ASSR response detection would improve (lower) thresholds and decrease discrepancies between the thresholds produced by the two techniques. The second objective was to determine and compare test times required by the two techniques to predict thresholds for both ears at the 4 basic audiometric frequencies of 500, 1000, 2000, and 4000 Hz.

Design:

A multicenter clinical study was implemented at three university-based children’s hospital audiology departments. Participants were 102 infants and toddlers referred to the centers for electrophysiologic testing for audiometric purposes. The test battery included wideband tympanometry, distortion-product otoacoustic emissions, and threshold measurements at four frequencies in both ears using ABR and ASSR (randomized) as implemented on the Interacoustics Eclipse systems with “Next-Generation” ASSR detection and FMP analysis for ABR. Both methods utilized narrow band CE-Chirp stimuli. Testers were trained on a specialized test battery designed to minimize test time for both techniques. Testing with both techniques was performed in one session. Thresholds were evaluated and confirmed by the first author and correction factors were applied. Test times were documented in system software.

Results:

Corrected thresholds for ABR and ASSR were compared by regression, by the Bland–Altman technique and by matched pairs t tests. Thresholds were significantly lower for ASSR than ABR. The ABR–ASSR discrepancy at 500 Hz was 14.39 dB, at 1000 Hz was 10.12 dB, at 2000 Hz was 3.73 dB, and at 4000 Hz was 3.67 dB. The average test time for ASSR of 19.93 min (for 8 thresholds) was found to be significantly lower (p < 0.001) than the ABR test time of 32.15 min. One half of the subjects were found to have normal hearing. ASSR thresholds plotted in dB nHL for normal-hearing children in this study were found to be the lowest yet described except for one study which used the same technology.

Conclusions:

This study found a reversal of previous findings with up to 14 dB lower thresholds found when using the ASSR technique with “Next-Generation” detection as compared with ABR using an automated detection (FMP). The test time for an audiogram prediction was significantly lower when using ASSR than ABR but was excellent by clinical standards for both techniques. ASSRs improved threshold performance was attributed to advancements in response detection including utilization of information at multiple harmonics of the modulation frequency. The stimulation paradigm which utilized narrow band CE-Chirps also contributed to the low absolute levels of the thresholds in nHL found with both techniques.

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