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University of Missouri Health Care News Releases
New diagnostic hearing test requires no sedation for pediatric patients at MU Health Care

January 12, 2011                                                                       Contact: Matt Splett
                                                                                                      Media Coordinator
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                    (573) 882-5663

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Audiologists at MU Health Care are using new technology that eliminates the need to sedate a newborn or infant who requires a diagnostic hearing test.

The new Vivosonic Integrity™ ABR Unit allows audiologists to conduct an auditory brainstem response (ABR) hearing test without sedation.

The Vivosonic Integrity ABR Unit is designed to be less sensitive to outside interference. This allows audiologists to measure hearing thresholds in infants – who are free to feed or play quietly while being tested.

“The sedationless test reduces any risks associated with giving anesthesia to a young child,” said Christina Sanderson, audiologist at MU Health Care’s ENT and Allergy Center of Missouri. “Instead of going to a hospital, the ABR test can now be given in the clinic in the company of a child’s parents.”

In Missouri, newborn babies are required by law to be screened for hearing loss before leaving the hospital. If the child does not pass the screening twice, the baby is referred to a pediatric audiologist for diagnostic testing.

Pediatric audiologists commonly use an ABR test to measure hearing levels in infants. The ABR test involves attaching electrodes to the forehead and ears of the patient. Different clicking sounds and tones are then fed through headphones into the child’s ears. Meanwhile, the audiologist reviews a computer screen that shows the patient’s brain response to the sounds.

“In an ABR test, we are looking for a pattern of waves on the computer screen that tells us, ‘yes’ the brain is hearing this sound,” said Sanderson.

To effectively conduct an ABR test, audiologists must ensure the infant remains quiet throughout the two-to-three hour screening.

One of the first patients to experience the new sedationless ABR test at MU Health Care was 15-month-old Kenny Stone Jr. of Glasgow.

15-month-old Kenny Stone Jr.
watches a movie during his ABR test
in December 2010.

Stone wears hearing aids in both ears. His family has a past history of hearing loss, and he has twice needed an ABR test to measure his hearing levels. When the first test was done in January 2010, Stone was sedated, and the experience was difficult for Stone’s mother, Kelly LaChance.

“I cried,” said LaChance. “It was scary from my perspective, and I know it was for him too. We had several nervous hours in the waiting room at the hospital.”

When the time came for Stone’s second ABR test in December 2010, audiologists conducted the test using the new sedationless technology. During the test, Stone watched a movie on a portable DVD player and eventually fell asleep.

“I think we were more relaxed, and he was too,” said LaChance. “Our anxiety levels were a lot lower than what they would have been had we sedated him.”

For more information about sedationless ABR testing at MU Health Care, please contact the ENT and Audiology Clinic at (573) 882-7903.

Video Files

Christina Sanderson, an audiologist at MU Health Care's ENT and Allergy Center of Missouri, describes the new sedationless ABR test now offered to patients at MU Health Care. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxIMdkejMPw 

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