Serial Monitoring of Otoacoustic Emissions in Clinical Trials

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Abstract

The purpose of this report is to provide guidance on the use of otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) as a clinical trial outcome measure for pharmaceutical interventions developed to prevent acquired hearing loss secondary to cochlear insult. OAEs are a rapid, noninvasive measure that can be used to monitor cochlear outer hair cell function. Serial monitoring of OAEs is most clearly established for use in hearing conservation and ototoxicity monitoring programs in which they exhibit more frequent and earlier changes compared with pure-tone audiometry. They also show promise in recent human trials of otoprotectants. Questions remain, however, concerning the most appropriate OAE protocols to use and what constitutes a “significant” OAE response change. Measurement system capabilities are expanding and test efficacy will vary across locations and patient populations. Yet, standardizing minimal measurement criteria and reporting of results is needed including documentation of test-retest variability so that useful comparisons can be made across trials. It is also clear that protocols must be theoretically sound based on known patterns of damage, generate valid results in most individuals tested, be accurate, repeatable, and involve minimal time. Based on the potential value added, OAEs should be included in clinical trials when measurement conditions and time permit.

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