What is an OAE evaluation?
The OAE (oacoustic emissions evaluation in pediatrics )test is often part of a newborn hearing screening program designed to detect any blockage in the outer ear canal, as well as the presence of middle ear fluid and damage to the outer hair cells in the cochlea. An otoacoustic emissions evaluation in pediatrics test (OAE) measures an acoustic response that is produced by the inner ear (cochlea), which in essence bounces back out of the ear in response to a sound stimulus. A small probe that contains a microphone and speaker is placed into the infant’s ear and as the infant rests quietly, sounds are generated in the probe. The cochlea on processing the sound, sends an electrical stimulus to the brainstem. In addition, there is a second and separate sound that does not travel up the nerve but comes back out into the infant’s ear canal. This “byproduct” is the otoacoustic emissions evaluation in pediatrics which is recorded with the microphone probe and represented pictorially on a computer screen. This enables HAC’s audiologist to determine which sounds yielded a response/emission and the strength of those responses. If there is an emission present for those sounds that are critical to speech comprehension, then the infant has “passed” the hearing screen. Testing usually lasts five to eight minutes.