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Auditory Brainstem Response

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What is an Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) Test?

The ABR is a special hearing test that is used for children that are either too young or unable to respond or cannot cooperate for a standard hearing test appropriately using traditional test methods. It is a very accurate and objective way of testing the hearing of a child. A pediatric audiologist performs, interprets and reviews the test results and makes recommendations based on these findings.

  • The test requires that your child remain asleep for one to two hours. Our CHKD doctor will order a sedative (a medicine that will make your child sleepy). Our nurse will give the medicine and provide medical monitoring. 
  • Every child is different regarding the amount of time needed to go to sleep and wake up. Usually it takes two to three hours for the appointment.

What happens during testing?

  • Electrodes are placed on your child’s ears and forehead.
  • Small earphones are placed in your child’s ears to present various sounds.
  • Soft sounds are sent through the earphones.
  • The ABR test measures the response of the auditory pathway in response to different pitches and tones and identifies the softest sounds your child can hear. 
  • This test will cause no discomfort to your child.
  • When the testing is complete, we will wake your child before allowing him/her to go home.
  • After the evaluation has been completed, the audiologist will review your child's test results with you and discuss any recommendations necessary to help your child.

To help your child have a successful ABR:

  • Your child should stay up later than usual at bedtime and get up very early the day of the test. Do not allow your child to nap before the test. If your child is sleepy when you arrive for the appointment he/she will not need as much medicine and will sleep better during the test.
  • A parent or legal guardian must accompany the child. If a foster child is in the custody of Social Services, consent for sedation must be obtained from the legal guardian PRIOR to the appointment.
  • Please leave other children at home. We do not have supervised waiting rooms for other children.
  • A stroller or carrier will be helpful to take your sleepy child home.
  • If your insurance company requires a referral, be sure to bring it with you. If you do not have a referral when one is required, you will need to reschedule or pay for the appointment yourself. Remember to bring your insurance card with you.

Disclaimer:This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 04/2014

(757) 668-7000