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Audiology Brainstem Response - ABR

What is an Auditory Brainstem Response?

The Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) is an objective test that can be used to estimate hearing sensitivity and to identify neurological abnormalities of the auditory nerve and the auditory pathway up through the brainstem.

What can I, as the patient, expect at my appointment?

After the audiologist places electrodes on your ear lobes and forehead, ear phones are placed in your ear to deliver the click stimulus. You do not need to respond to the click but you will sit in a reclined position and are instructed to lay as relaxed as possible with your eyes closed throughout the test.

Audiology Services

ABR and Stacked ABR (Audiology Brainstem Response)
Adult Acoustic Immittance
ENG Instructions
Otoacoustic Emissions
Pediatric Hearing Test
Pediatric Acoustic Immittance

What does the ABR measure?

As the clicks are delivered through the earphones, the electrodes measure the electrical activity from the auditory pathway. These electrical responses are analyzed by the computer and produce a waveform. The different peaks on the resulting waveform provide information on the time it takes various structures of the auditory pathway to respond following the stimulus.

Delayed times of these peaks help in identifying acoustic neuromas (larger than 1 cm) along the auditory pathway. Hearing sensitivity can also be estimated using the ABR for patients who cannot be tested reliably using behavioral testing techniques (i.e. infants or adults who are mentally challenged).


If you are scheduled for an ABR you can click here to view or print the instruction sheet.

Forms Require Free Adobe Reader Software - download here if needed




What is a Stacked Auditory Brainstem Response?

The Stacked Auditory Brainstem Response (SABR) is an objective test that can help in the diagnosis of acoustic neuromas and Meniere’s disease. The SABR technology is very new (FDA approved in 2004) and is not available in most clinics. The California Ear Institute was one of the first sites to participate in the research of the SABR through the House Ear Institute.

What can I, as the patient, expect at my appointment?

Electrodes and ear phones are placed identically as with the Auditory Brainstem Response. Along with hearing the click stimulus you will also hear various masking noises (sounds like static) and you are not required to respond to the stimulus. You will lay as relaxed as possible throughout the test with your eyes closed.

What is it measuring?

The electrodes are measuring the electrical activity of the auditory pathway in the same way as the ABR; however, the computer analyzes the information for the SABR in a different manner than for the ABR. This new technology of analyzing the information allows us to identify tumors smaller than 1cm and can also help in the differential diagnosis of Meniere’s disease and cochlear hydrops.

Click here for information regarding Meniere's Disease

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1900 University Avenue, Suite 101
E. Palo Alto, CA 94303
Phone: (650) 494-1000
Fax: (650) 322-8228
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California Ear Institute