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What is a BAER Hearing Test?

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Updated June 10, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: What is a BAER Hearing Test?
Answer:

BAER (Brain Stem Auditory Evoked Response) Testing is used to evaluate the function of the auditory nerve, cochlea and hearing pathways in brain. It is routinely performed in place of a behavioral hearing test on those who are unable to cooperate with a standard hearing test (for example: infants, those with developmental delays, etc.), bit it can still be used to detect hearing loss.

BAER is not painful although in certain situations a patient may need to be sedated, which usually involves the placement of an I.V. First, electrodes are placed on the person's forehead, scalp and earlobes and small headphones are put inside of each ear. The electrodes measure brain waves. After all equipment is in place a series of clicks, hisses, and other sounds are played. The brain's response to these sounds is recorded and used to determine the patient's level of hearing.

BAER is commonly performed on newborn infants to screen their hearing and is often used in conjunction with OAE (oto-accoustic emissions) testing. BAER is also sometimes called ABR (Auditory Brain Stem Response) testing. If the patient does not pass BAER testing it does not necessarily mean he is deaf or thta he has permanent hearing loss, further testing is needed. Common reasons for not passing BAER include: fluid inside the middle ear space or a blocked ear canal. Likewise, even one does pass BAER testing he can still develop hearing problems later in life.

Sources:

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Hearing Screening. Accessed: May 24, 2010 from http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/testing/

Seattle Children's Hospital Research Foundation. Newborn Hearing Screening. Accessed: May 24, 2010 from http://www.seattlechildrens.org/classes-community/community-programs/newborn-hearing-screening/about-screening/

University of Michigan Health System. Auditory-Brain Stem Response Testing for Adults. Accessed: May 24, 2010 from http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/tests/testa14.htm

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