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How is microtia diagnosed?

Babies with microtia are born with undersized, misshapen, or missing external ears. A doctor can diagnose the condition right away with a visual exam.

To tell how well your baby can hear, a test called an auditory brain response evaluation (ABR) is often used to check the inner function of a baby with microtia.

During the test, small, painless sensors will be attached to your child’s head as he/she sleeps. Earphones will transmit sounds at different pitches into each of the ears, and a special computer will monitor brain wave patterns measuring response to those sounds.

Will my child need to be sedated for his/her ABR test?

Your child needs to sleep throughout the test. Babies under the age of 6 months are not usually sedated, and the test is performed while they are sleeping naturally after a feeding. Children older than 6 months are typically sedated.

The test is not painful or uncomfortable, but it is necessary for your child to be asleep in order to obtain clear recordings.

How long will the ABR test take?

ABR evaluations, both sedated and unsedated, take two to three hours to complete. The results will be explained to you immediately afterward.

Does my baby need to follow certain feeding restrictions before his/her ABR test?

  • Under 6 months of age: no solid food, milk or formula for four hours before the test
  • 6 months or older: no solid food, milk or formula for six hours before the test
  • All children: Only clear liquids, such as water, breast milk or apple juice, are allowed until two hours before the test, after which time no liquids are permitted.