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Ear Hear. 1990 Apr;11(2):144-54.

The clinical utility of distortion-product otoacoustic emissions.

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  • 1Department of Otorhinolaryngology & Communicative Sciences, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.


Otoacoustic emissions permit, for the first time, an unbiased means of examining the preneural elements of the peripheral auditory pathway that make the initial contribution to the perception of acoustic stimuli. Distortion-product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAEs) represent one type of evoked emission that has significant potential for becoming an important test in the audiometric evaluation of hearing capacity. In the present review, selected examples of several forms of sensorineural hearing loss demonstrate that DPOAEs have the ability to act as objective indicators of the frequency/level configuration of the conventional audiogram in cases in which hearing impairment results primarily from damage to the outer hair cells. In contrast, normal DPOAE functioning, in the presence of a significant hearing loss, indicates a locus of damage central to the region of the outer hair cells. Like the other emitted responses, DPOAEs can be measured noninvasively, are highly repeatable, under test-retest conditions, and are simple and rapid to detect using microcomputer-based instrumentation. Further, DPOAEs test both the "threshold" and suprathreshold levels of outer hair-cell activity in the form of response/growth functions, over a 30- to 40-dB stimulus range. In combination, these attributes indicate that DPOAEs can provide an objective and comprehensive assessment of the cochlear reserve of a given ear.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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