The main objective of this study was to measure the vibrotactile thresholds on the mastoid process and forehead positions using patients with bilateral deafness and to compare the results from the two bone conduction vibrators Radioear B71 and B81.Design:
There is a possibility that the vibrotactile sensation on the skin makes it difficult to discriminate between sound and vibration. The risk is highest for patients who have bone conduction hearing thresholds in proximity to or worse than their vibrotactile thresholds. All measurements were performed similar to regular bone conduction threshold testing using an audiometer-driven bone conduction vibrator and pulsed warble tones, but the patients were instructed to respond only when feeling vibrations of the bone conduction vibrator instead of when hearing sound. Both the posterior forehead position and the mastoid process position on the temporal bone were tested for comparative reasons. In total, 16 patients participated in the study, 31% females and 69% males of age 29 to 77 years. All subjects were cochlear implant recipients, either uni- or bilaterally implanted. They were selected based on their audiogram data showing unmeasurable unaided hearing.Results:
The force level at which the vibrotactile thresholds were reached, increased with frequency from 125 up to 500 Hz, but remained constant for higher frequencies up to 2 kHz. A statistically significant difference was found between the 2 devices at 125 Hz at both the mastoid process and forehead position, where the vibrotactile threshold seem to be more sensitive for B71, possibly due to contribution of distortion components. There was no statistically significant difference in vibrotactile thresholds between the mastoid process and forehead position in absolute values (force level in dB re 1 µN), but in terms of hearing levels (dB HL) there was an average difference of 10 and 9 dB for B71 and B81, respectively.Conclusions:
The results indicate that the vibrotactile thresholds can be confounded with bone conduction hearing thresholds measurements up to 500 Hz when using a standard audiometer and in particular when measuring on the forehead position.