ABR Study and Brainstem Auditory Brainstem Response Interpretation

ABR study, or the auditory brainstem response study, is a valuable tool for neurologists and other healthcare professionals in assessing the health of the auditory system. This study can help to identify problems with the auditory nerves, pathways, and brainstem. Continue reading to learn more about what ABR studies are and how they are interpreted. We will also provide an overview of some of the common disorders that can be detected with ABR studies as well as some tips on how to prepare for an ABR study.

What is an ABR study?

An ABR study is used to study the function of the auditory system. It measures the response of the auditory nerve pathway to clicks or tones that are presented through earphones. The response is recorded from electrodes placed on the head, and the resulting waveform is used to assess the function of the auditory system. ABR studies are often used to diagnose hearing loss or other disorders of the auditory system. ABR stands for auditory brainstem response, and it is a study of the electrical activity in the auditory pathway and brainstem. The ABR study measures the time it takes for sound waves to travel through the ear canal, across the middle ear, along the auditory nerve to the brainstem, and then back out.

The study registers the electrical activity produced in the brain in response to sound. It is painless and non-invasive. The ABR study is primarily used for infants and young children, as it does not require cooperation from the person being studied. ABR can also be used for people of all ages who are unable to respond to other types of hearing studies, such as those with certain neurological conditions.

Why is an auditory brainstem response study performed?

An auditory brainstem response (ABR) study is a neurological diagnostic procedure used to assess the function of the central nervous system (CNS). It is typically used to help diagnose disorders of the CNS, such as hearing loss or damage to the auditory nerve. ABR studies are also used to monitor the progression of neurological disorders and to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment. For example, if a person is experiencing hearing loss, an ABR study can help to determine if the hearing loss is caused by damage to the auditory nerve or some other issue.

What happens during an auditory brainstem response study?

An auditory brainstem response study is a way for doctors to assess how well the hearing nerve and brain are functioning. During the study, medical electrodes are placed on the head in order to record electrical activity in response to sound. There are three main types of auditory evoked responses: auditory brainstem response (ABR), cochlear microphonics, and clicks-evoked potentials. ABR waves are recorded in response to clicks or tones presented to the ear, and they provide information about the function of the hearing nerve and brainstem. Cochlear microphonics are recorded in response to sound presented to the ear, and they provide information about the function of the inner ear. Clicks-evoked potentials are recorded in response to clicks presented directly to the brain, and they provide information about the function of the auditory cortex. ABR studies are painless and noninvasive, and they can be helpful in diagnosing hearing loss or other disorders of the ear or nervous system.

Preparing for an ABR study

Before undergoing an ABR study, it is important to discuss with your doctor any medications or supplements you are taking that might interfere with the results. It is also important to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or hearing issues you may have. It is best to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine for at least 12 hours before the study. Be sure to thoroughly wash and dry your hair and leave it without product for the study. Finally, it is important to arrive at the appointment on time and with any relevant medical records or documents. The ABR usually takes about 60 minutes, during which electrodes are placed on the head to measure electrical activity in response to sounds presented through earphones.

Read more about ABR preparation on our examination prep page:

What do abnormal study results mean?

Wondering which condition would produce an abnormal auditory brainstem response (ABR)? An abnormal auditory brainstem response indicates that there is a problem in the brainstem, which is the area of the brain that connects the cerebrum to the spinal cord. The ABR study measures the electrical activity in the brainstem in response to sound stimulation. Abnormal ABR study results can be caused by a variety of conditions, including tumors, stroke, and multiple sclerosis. In some cases, an abnormal ABR study may be due to a congenital birth defect.  An auditory brainstem response study is typically used to help diagnose hearing loss or other neurological disorders, but it can also be used as a follow-up study to monitor the progression of a condition.

It is important to follow up with your doctor if you receive an abnormal ABR result, as they will be able to discuss the possible causes and provide treatment options.  Additionally, your doctor may recommend additional diagnostic studies to confirm a diagnosis or exclude other potential causes of the abnormal result. For example, if an auditory brainstem response study indicates hearing loss, further diagnostic studies may be needed to determine the cause, such as a CT scan or MRI.  In any case, it is important to work with your doctor to find the cause of an abnormal auditory brainstem response and develop a plan for treatment.

ABR Study Locations Near Me 

If you’re looking for an ABR study for adults, Brain and Spine is one of the only locations in the Northwest Florida area that performs the study. We specialize in neurological diagnostics and offer the ABR study for both adults and children. In addition to offering the ABR study, we also provide many other services such as NCS/EMG and electroencephalogram (EEG). At Brain and Spine, we offer comprehensive neurological diagnostics that can help you get a better understanding of your hearing loss and find the best course of treatment.


What Is an Auditory Brainstem Response Test?

An Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) test is a non-invasive diagnostic procedure used to measure how the auditory nerve and brainstem respond to sound. It’s used to assess hearing sensitivity and identify neurological problems affecting the auditory pathway.

What does an ABR test for?

The ABR test checks for hearing and neurological disorders by measuring the brain’s activity in response to sounds. It can diagnose hearing loss in newborns, adults, and patients who can’t undergo traditional hearing tests, and detect conditions like auditory neuropathy and brainstem dysfunction.

How accurate is the ABR hearing test?

The ABR hearing test is highly accurate in detecting hearing loss and neurological abnormalities in the auditory pathway. Its precision makes it a trusted method for early hearing assessment in newborns and in diagnosing auditory disorders across all ages.

How Long does an ABR take?

An ABR test typically takes about 30 to 60 minutes for adults and older children. The duration can vary based on the patient’s condition and cooperation during the test.

How long does a sedated ABR test take?

When sedation is used, especially for infants or individuals who cannot remain still, the ABR test might take longer, ranging from 1 to 2 hours, to ensure safety and accuracy of the test results.

What does a failed ABR test mean?

A failed ABR test indicates that the auditory system did not respond to sounds as expected, suggesting potential hearing loss or neurological issues. Further evaluation and tests are often recommended to determine the cause and extent of the problem.

How is an ABR done?

During an ABR test, electrodes are placed on the head to record electrical activity in the brain in response to sound stimuli delivered through earphones. The patient is usually asked to relax or sleep to minimize movement and ensure accurate results.

What happens if a baby fails ABR test?

If a baby fails the ABR test, it might indicate hearing issues or neurological abnormalities. Additional tests and evaluations will be conducted to confirm the findings and determine the appropriate intervention or treatment plan.

How do you interpret the ABR test results?

ABR test results are interpreted by analyzing the wave patterns produced in response to sound stimuli. Specific wave components are measured for latency and amplitude to assess the auditory nerve and brainstem’s response, helping identify hearing sensitivity levels and potential abnormalities.

What kind of sedation is used for ABR?

For a sedated ABR test, mild to moderate sedation may be used to help the patient relax or sleep, ensuring minimal movement during the test. The type of sedation varies but is carefully chosen based on the patient’s age, health, and specific needs to ensure safety.

Why Are Auditory Brainstem Response Tests Done?

ABR tests are conducted to assess hearing sensitivity, especially in newborns and individuals who cannot communicate their hearing abilities. They also help diagnose conditions affecting the auditory nerve and brainstem.

How Should We Prepare for an ABR?

Preparation for an ABR test involves ensuring the patient is comfortable and relaxed. For infants and young children, it might include adjusting sleep schedules or feeding times to encourage sleep during the test. Your healthcare provider will give you specific instructions based on your situation.

Can I Stay With My Child During an ABR?

Yes, in most cases, parents can stay with their child during an ABR test to provide comfort and reassurance. However, it’s important to remain quiet and still to avoid influencing the test results.

What Happens After an ABR?

After an ABR test, you can resume normal activities immediately unless sedation was used, in which case a brief recovery period may be needed. Your healthcare provider will discuss the preliminary results with you and plan any necessary follow-up.

When Are the ABR Results Ready

The timeline for receiving ABR test results will be in your follow up visit, with a detailed report following after thorough analysis by a specialist.

Are There Any Risks From ABRs?

ABR tests are safe and carry minimal risks. When sedation is used, there are additional considerations, but the healthcare team takes careful precautions to ensure the patient’s safety throughout the procedure.

Contact us today to schedule your ABR study!