Auditory Brainstem Response testing
Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)
ABR (Auditory Brainstem Response) is a test to assess your child’s hearing. This is a computerised test that records your child’s hearing response to sound.
The response is recorded by placing a number of sticky electrode pads on the child’s head. The electrodes send the response to the computer where it is recorded. The test takes about 90 minutes once your child is asleep, and there is no discomfort for your child.
It is necessary that your child is asleep for the test, or otherwise the child’s muscle movement will be recorded and stop us from seeing the hearing responses.
The test can be done using sedation medicine (to make them sleepy) or general anaesthetic.
If your child is having sedation or general anaesthetic for their ABR they will need to fast (go without food or drink) before the procedure. This is to improve the safety and decrease the risk of the anaesthetic.
Please see the separate fasting instructions for details.
ABR using sedation
If your child is having sedation for their ABR the anaesthetic doctor usually orders a medicine called Chloral Hydrate. Chloral Hydrate is a strong peppermint tasting medicine that is taken by mouth.
It is important that the whole dose is taken and nurses will assist you with this. It will then take between 10 and 30 minutes for your child to become drowsy.
An effect of the sedation medication for some children is that they become upset before going off to sleep.
Once your child is asleep a monitor will be attached to your child. You and your child will then be escorted to the ABR room in the Day Unit. A nurse will stay with your child and monitor them while they are asleep.
You can remain with your child during the test or come and go from the room. Sedation has the potential to fail in approximately one in five cases.
After the ABR
When the ABR is finished and your child is awake they will be offered some food and drink. Breast or bottle fed babies can be fed as soon as they are awake.
Once your child has had food and drink and is alert they will be discharged into your care.
Chloral Hydrate can have effects on your child for between four and eight hours and they should be watched during this time. Quiet inside play is recommended for the rest of the day.
They can return to normal activity the following day.
ABR using general anaesthetic
If your child is having their test under general anaesthetic this takes place in the Children’s Operating Theatre.
One parent may usually stay with them until they are asleep (at your anaesthetist’s discretion).
A drip may be inserted during the procedure.
After the ABR
When the ABR is finished and your child is awake they will be offered some food and drink.
Breast or bottle fed babies can be fed as soon as they are awake. After approximately one hour and once your child has had food and drink and is alert they will be discharged into your care.
Quiet inside play is recommended for the rest of the day. They can return to normal activity the following day.
Feeling nauseous and vomiting is a possible after effect of an anaesthetic, but if this persists you should seek medical attention.
The audiologist will discuss the results of the ABR with you at the end of the test. A follow up appointment with the doctor who requested the ABR may be required. If you are unsure about this appointment please let your nurse know.
To ensure your child receives the best possible care in an emergency, you should call 000 or go to your closest hospital that treats children.
If you have any concerns or questions please contact your doctor.
Contact Mater Children’s Private Brisbane
South Brisbane QLD 4101
Telephone: 07 3163 8111
Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: HOSP-008-06199-02
Last modified 17/11/2015.