Otoacoustic Emissions are sounds generated in healthy inner ears when the cochlea is stimulated by a sound. When the cochlea is stimulated, outer hair cells vibrate, producing soft sounds that echo back. The echo can be measured by a small probe that is placed at the opening of the ear canal.
An absent or reduced Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE)may indicate the inner ear is damaged in some way. This test is often part of a newborn hearing screening and may assist in detecting a blockage in the outer ear canal or fluid present in the middle ear.
The test starts with a soft eartip being inserted into the opening of the ear canal. The procedure is comfortable (even for infants), takes approximately 30 seconds and requires no response from the listener.
The test is usually part of a battery of tests such as a full Audiological Assessment or Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR).