1) To evaluate transient evoked otoacoustic emission (TEOAE) test performance when measurements are made under routine clinical conditions. 2) To evaluate TEOAE test performance as a function of frequency and as a function of the magnitude of hearing loss. 3) To compare test performance using univariate and multivariate approaches to data analyses. 4) To provide a means of interpreting clinical TEOAE measurements.
TEOAEs were measured in 452 ears of 246 patients. All measurements were made after acoustic immittance assessments, which were used to demonstrate that middle-ear function was normal at the time of the TEOAE test. TEOAE amplitudes and signal to noise ratios (SNRs), analyzed into octave bands centered at 1, 2, and 4 kHz, were compared with the pure-tone threshold at the same frequencies. Data were analyzed with clinical decision theory, cumulative distributions, discriminant analyses, and logistic regressions.
Using univariate analysis techniques, TEOAEs accurately identified auditory status at 2 and 4 kHz but were less accurate at 1 kHz. Test performance was best when audiometric thresholds between 20 and 30 dB HL were used as the criteria for normal hearing. TEOAE SNR resulted in better test performance than did TEOAE amplitude alone; this effect decreased as frequency increased. Multivariate analysis methods resulted in better separation between normal and impaired ears than did univariate approaches, which relied on only TEOAE amplitude or SNR when test frequency band and audiometric frequency were the same. This improvement in test performance was greatest at 1 kHz, decreased as frequency increased, and was negligible at 4 kHz.
TEOAEs can be used to identify hearing loss in children under routine clinical conditions. Univariate tests accurately identified auditory status at mid and high frequencies but performed more poorly at lower frequencies. The decrease in performance as frequency decreases may be result of increased noise at lower frequencies but also may be due to properties of the measurement paradigm ("QuickScreen," high-pass filter at 0.8 kHz), which would not be ideal for recording energy around 1 kHz. The improvement in test performance when SNR was used and the interaction of this effect with frequency, however, would be consistent with the view that test performance in lower frequencies is at least partially influenced by the level of background noise. Multivariate analysis techniques improved test performance compared with the more traditional univariate approaches to data analysis. An approach is provided that allows one to assign measured TEOAE amplitudes, SNRs, or outputs from multivariate analyses to one of three categories: response properties consistent with normal hearing; results consistent with hearing loss; hearing status undetermined.