With such a wide range of hearing and balance disorders, many of which have similar symptoms, it’s important for an ear, nose and throat doctor to make an accurate diagnosis in order to come up with a successful treatment plan. Diagnostic testing plays an important role in determining the condition responsible for a patient’s suffering.
Types of Diagnostic Tests
An ENT physician has a number of diagnostic tests available, ranging from X-rays and CT scans to more in-depth tests. Here are some of the most common:
- Acoustic Immittance Measures: These tests, such as tympanography and acoustic reflex testing, evaluate the eardrum and middle ear, and are used to determine which part of the ear is affected by hearing loss.
- Audiometry: This hearing exam measures your ability to hear different sounds, pitches and frequencies. It can determine the nature and extent of your hearing loss, and whether you will benefit from hearing aids or surgery.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): This neurologic test provides information about the electrical activity in the auditory pathway between the inner ear and the brain, and measures a person’s hearing sensitivity.
- Electrocochleography: This test is used to determine whether there is excess fluid in the inner ear by measuring the electrical currents generated by sound stimulation, and can help with the diagnosis of Meniere’s disease and other balance and hearing disorders.
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE): This test measures the response of hair cells in the inner ear when stimulated, and can indicate the presence of a conductive or cochlear hearing loss.
- Videonstagmography: This test measures eye movements to evaluate the inner ear and central motor functions. It can determine whether a vestibular disorder is the cause of a balance problem, and where one or both ears are affected.