Preschool Hearing Screenings: A Comparison of Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emission and Pure Tone Protocols

From the Journal of Educational Audiology vol. 19, 2013 – Distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAE) are sensitive to both sensorineural and conductive hearing losses and have the potential to be used as an effective screening measure across all populations, including children. DPOAE offer a quick and straightforward hearing screening technique for the pediatric population that is not influenced by subjective testing and is highly reproducible. In this study, the mean test times and pass/fail rates from 198 preschool participants were compared between two DPOAE screening protocols (1-5 kHz and 2-5 kHz) and a pure-tone screening protocol (1, 2 and 4 kHz). Significantly less time was needed to conduct the DPOAE screenings compared to the pure-tone screenings. Results suggested similar pass/fail rates for both DPOAE protocols compared to pure-tone screenings. Without diagnostic audiologic test results, the sensitivity and specificity of the screening protocols could not be determined. Until the true sensitivity and specificity of DPOAE and pure-tone screening protocols can be determined, it is recommended that clinicians consider adding DPOAE to their current screening protocol, or at least having DPOAE available to screen children who cannot or will not participate in pure-tone screenings.