Auditory Brainstem Response Evaluation In-Depth

What is an ABR Evaluation?

An Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) test is a sleep EEG hearing test that identifies the softest sounds your child's ears can detect at various pitches. EEG tests measure brain electrical activity.

How will the test be performed?

Your child will be asleep or sedated for the test, and you will be present in the testing room throughout. The test is very comfortable and painless, but it is necessary for your child to be asleep in order to obtain clear recordings during the test. Children over the age of six months are usually sedated with chloral hydrate. There will be three or four small stickers on your child's head, connected to leads going into a computer. Sounds will be presented through an earphone to each ear separately while a computer analyzes the changes in the brain wave pattern in response to sounds. ABR evaluations take approximately 2-3 hours, and the results are available right away. Don't worry if your child is very sleepy after the test; this is normal.

What should I bring to the test?

Maximize your child's comfort by bringing anything that helps her fall asleep, like a blanket or a toy. If you think your child will be heavy to carry afterward, bring a stroller. Your child will need to drink after the test, so bring clear liquid, like water.

What can my child eat or drink before the test?

If your child is less than six months old, please avoid solid food, milk, or formula for 4 hours before the test. If your child is older than six months, avoid solid food, milk, or formula for 6 hours before the test. Be sure to give your child plenty of clear liquids, like water, breast milk, or apple juice, up to 2 hours before the test.