22 Aug My Audiologist referred me for an ABR – now what??
So, your audiologist has recommended that you go for an ABR test. But what does it mean? Read below to discover why your audiologist has suggested this test, what it does, how it is done, and where you’ll go/ who you’ll see.
What is the Auditory Brainstem Response Test?
As sound travels from the ear, along the auditory nerve, up to the higher portions of the auditory systems of the brain, this information travels via electrical activity that can be monitored with specialized recording techniques. The ABR test measures the electrical activity of the sound traveling along the auditory nerve; the person performing the test will look for certain neurological “markers” as the auditory nerve responds to different sounds.
An audiologist may refer you for an ABR for a variety of different reasons:
- If there is an asymmetry in your hearing (or unilateral ringing in your ears) that cannot be explained by previous noise exposure/medical history, the ABR may provide more information as to the cause of the asymmetry.
- There is a significant history of episodes of vertigo/dizziness.
- There is a history of ringing in the ears with normal hearing.
- If the hearing test was inconclusive.
How do they do this test and what do I have to do?
The test is very straight-forward for the patient. You’ll be asked to relax in a recliner chair (some people even take a nap) for 30-60 minutes. You’ll be listening to some clicking sounds through earphones, and you’ll have a few electrodes attached to your forehead and ears with paste and/or medical tape. As you are relaxing, the audiologist will be making recordings of how the sounds are traveling along your auditory nerve.
Audiologists at the Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Centers (government-funded hearing centers) across Nova Scotia are trained to complete this test and have the equipment. This test is covered by MSI.
Where do I go for the test?
NSHSC has sites at the Dickson Center, Park Lane Mall, Dartmouth, and Cobequid Center in Lower Sackville, as well as many outside of metro Halifax. When they call to arrange the appointment, they will work with you to determine which location is best for you.
When will I be called for the test?
There is a bit of a wait list at the Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Centers. You can expect a call within a few months to schedule your appointment. They will call you directly and schedule a time with you when your reach the top of the wait list.
What do I do after the test?
After the ABR has been completed, a copy will be sent back to the audiologist who referred you. If there is any follow-up required from an audiology perspective, your audiologist will contact you to discuss this. If there is any follow-up required by your family physician, the report will be sent to the GP and follow-up arranged by their office.