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Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2004 Mar;83(3):210-5.

Brainstem auditory-evoked potentials as an objective tool for evaluating hearing dysfunction in traumatic brain injury.

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Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Service, VA Palo Alto Health Care System/Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California 94304, USA.


Because of the violent nature of traumatic brain injury, traumatic brain injury patients are susceptible to various types of trauma involving the auditory system. We report a case of a 55-yr-old man who presented with communication problems after traumatic brain injury. Initial results from behavioral audiometry and Weber/Rinne tests were not reliable because of poor cooperation. He was transferred to our service for inpatient rehabilitation, where review of the initial head computed tomographic scan showed only left temporal bone fracture. Brainstem auditory-evoked potential was then performed to evaluate his hearing function. The results showed bilateral absence of auditory-evoked responses, which strongly suggested bilateral deafness. This finding led to a follow-up computed tomographic scan, with focus on bilateral temporal bones. A subtle transverse fracture of the right temporal bone was then detected, in addition to the left temporal bone fracture previously identified. Like children with hearing impairment, traumatic brain injury patients may not be able to verbalize their auditory deficits in a timely manner. If hearing loss is suspected in a patient who is unable to participate in traditional behavioral audiometric testing, brainstem auditory-evoked potential may be an option for evaluating hearing dysfunction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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