What Is the Difference Between Screening and Clinical Audiometers


There are two main categories of audiometers – these are screening audiometers and clinical (or diagnostic) audiometers. There are a wide array of audiometers available in both of these categories and some of them can do a variety of different tests. Depending on the patient population you see, the level of hearing tests you want to be able to offer, and the budget you have to purchase your equipment, will often determine which audiometer(s) you need to buy. Your diagnostic testing ability will be dictated by the type and functionality of equipment you have in your practice.

Screening Audiometers

These are first level hearing testing audiometers that clinicians use to determine if there is any measurable hearing loss. Many screening audiometers are preset with automatic threshold hearing levels so that the initial screening test can be made quickly. Oftentimes, screening audiometers are used to do initial testing in large audiences such as schools, nursing homes, health clinics, and the like. Certain types of screening audiometers may also be used for OSHA-specific hearing testing in industrial settings. Tests run on some screening audiometers can be self-administered by the patient.

Clinical Audiometers

Once it has been determined that a patient has a measurable hearing loss, they might be sent for additional diagnostic testing. These tests are done with clinical audiometers. A clinical audiometer is used to assist in the identification of the site of the pathology within the auditory system. Unlike screening audiometers, which are fairly easy to use, clinical audiometers are more sophisticated and need advanced clinical training to operate. These audiometers provide a much wider range of test capability than screening audiometers and thus enable the clinician to develop a diagnosis and assess all aspects of the auditory system.

When assessing sites of pathology, the clinician may use a clinical audiometer to help identify the type of hearing loss such as conductive, sensory, sensorineural, mixed and central.

Common Causes of Hearing Loss

Any hearing loss associated with an obstruction in the external ear canal (e.g., wax or debris) or middle ear problems such as infection, trauma, tumor, congenital abnormalities, and potential head or neck conditions, may result in a conductive hearing loss and medical as well as audiologic intervention might be recommended for these types of losses.

Sensorineural hearing loss may be caused by various conditions such as maternal rubella, mumps, meningitis, noise trauma, the effects of aging, some medications, trauma, hyperlipidemia, hereditary disorders, tumors and nerve disorders, etc. If this type of hearing loss is detected, additional testing could be done to determine rehabilitative options including amplification, which may be indicated.

With the wide variety of screening and clinical audiometers available on the market today, audiologists could benefit from the advice and guidance of the experienced representatives at e3 Diagnostics, who can help them determine the best possible equipment for their practice and budget. Our knowledgeable specialists will offer options and provide resources to help clinicians choose the right screening and/or diagnostic audiometers for their specific requirements.

Reach out to your local e3 Diagnostics office and make a convenient appointment.

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