Otoacoustic emissions testing is a valuable tool that allows us to assess the hearing status for hard to test populations from newborns to adults, identify changes to the inner ear before behaviorally a difference is noted and can be used to test the effects of ototoxic drugs.
Otoacoustic emissions testing is a fairly recent addition to our hearing test battery. The test is a quantitative test requiring no response from the person being tested. A series of paired tones are sent into the inner ear through a small probe fit into the outer ear canal. In a healthy ear, the inner ear will respond with a corresponding tone (sometimes referred to as an echo or an emission) that is picked up by a sensitive microphone in the probe tip. The presence of an appropriate emission tells us that the inner ear (cochlea) is responding.