If you are questioning whether or not your child is having difficulty hearing, early diagnosis is critical for treating any potential hearing loss before the condition worsens and causes further speech and language delays. The University of UChicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital pediatric otolaryngologists are committed to diagnosing your child’s hearing loss, and determining the best treatment strategy.

Comprehensive Diagnostic Services

Audiological Exam

Comer Children’s audiologists will use a series of tests to pinpoint if hearing loss is present and characterize what type(s) it is. We will be testing your child's outer, middle and inner ear functions, including testing sound and word detection, using noninvasive, painless techniques. A comprehensive evaluation typically takes about 30 minutes to complete, but can vary depending on the studies needed.

  • Pure Tone Audiogram is the foundational assessment used to determine your child's ability to hear different tones at various volumes across the normal range of human hearing. The test also studies your child’s ability to recognize spoken words. 
  • Tympanogram measures the function of your child's eardrum and how well it vibrates. It can indicate problems with middle ear pressure or conditions like an eardrum perforation. 
  • Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) assess how the sounds are being transferred along the hearing nerve and brain. It is similar to an EEG which measures brain waves.
  • Otoacoustic Emissions test the function of hair cells within the inner ear (cochlear).
  • Tuning fork tests are the most basic audiological tests used to measure hearing loss.
  • Behavioral Audiometry Evaluation: For younger children, behavioral or conditioned play test measures are conducted to assess a child’s hearing levels.

Computerized Tomography (CT)

A CT will provide our team with a clear image of your child’s bony ear anatomy in order to assess the integrity of the hearing bones, size and shape of the hearing and balance organs, and look for problems caused by chronic infections.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

An MRI is performed to identify a growth or tumor in or around the inner ear that could be causing hearing loss. It can also provide detailed information about the structure of the hearing and balance organs.

Genetic Testing

Many cases of childhood hearing loss are a result of genetic (inherited) problems, so certain blood tests may done to confirm or rule out any inherited conditions. In some instances, a referral your child to our pediatric genetics team.

Medical Evaluation

Our ear surgeons will perform an exam of your child’s ear, sometimes with a microscope, to look at the outer and middle ear structures. 

Speech and Language Evaluation

Speech and language delays are often seen in children with hearing loss, so our speech-language pathologist will work with your child to improve their speaking abilities due to hearing loss. 

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Pediatric Hearing Loss