The Audiology group in the UAB Department of Otolaryngology includes three main components: diagnostic testing, hearing aid services, and cochlear implants.

Diagnostic Testing

Hearing tests

  • Pure tone and speech audiometry
  • Impedance audiometry
  • Otoacoustic emissions
  • Auditory brainstem response testing

Hearing tests, including pure tone and speech audiometry, otoacoustic emissions, and auditory brainstem response testing, are performed and aim to define a patient's hearing level and type of hearing loss if present.

Once the degree and type of hearing loss are determined, additional diagnostic and treatment options are considered and offered to the patient where appropriate. Treatment for hearing loss is best determined by the underlying cause of the hearing loss, and can include medical treatment, surgical procedures, or the use of hearing amplification.

Vestibular tests

  • Videonystagmography
  • Electronystagmography
  • Vestibular evoked myogenic potentials
  • Electrocochleography

Vestibular (dizziness or balance) tests focus on testing the vestibular (balance) portion of the inner ear. Once baseline measurements of vestibular and visual function are performed, results are combined with clinical presentation, physical examination, and additional diagnostic evaluation to determine the proper explanation for dizziness and balance disorders.

Hearing Aids

State of the art hearing aids are provided through the UAB Department of Otolaryngology and include several prominent brand names, such as Phonak, Siemens, GNResound and Otocon.

Types of hearing aids include Behind the Ear (BTE), In the Ear (ITE), Completely in the Canal (CIC), or Contralateral Routing of Offside Signal (CROS).

In the last few years, modern advances in hearing aid technology have dramatically improved hearing aid functionality, and with it, patient satisfaction. These advances include features such as open fit, directional microphones, digital signal processing, noise reduction algorithms, feedback cancellation, and programming options for different sound environments. Other features include Bluetooth connectivity, remote control of programs and volume, and additional assistive listening devices.

Cochlear Implants

Patients with severe to profound hearing loss, who have little improvement with hearing aids, may become candidates for cochlear implantation. Candidacy for implantation is determined with a special battery of hearing tests under specific conditions to determine the amount of communication improvement gained through the patient's reliance on lip reading and hearing aids.

After candidacy is confirmed with audiologic testing, neurotology consultation is necessary to evaluate for medical and surgical limitations, underlying disease processes, and concurrent medical disease.

After surgery for cochlear implantation, implant programming is performed in a series of visits. The implant is activated; with activation of the implant, stimulus limits are determined for initial perception of sound and uncomfortable stimulus levels. Once initial limits are determined, initial programming of the implant is completed, and the patient begins the process of hearing rehabilitation. As neuroplastic changes occur in response to the new stimulus within the patient's brain over the ensuing 18 to 24 months, several visits with reprogramming of the implant are necessary to optimize the patient's outcome.

Auditory Brainstem Implants

UAB Otolaryngology is one of the few auditory brainstem implant programming centers in the nation. Auditory brainstem implants are a solution for individuals with hearing loss due to a non-functioning auditory nerve (Neurofibromatosis Type 2). Candidacy for implantation is determined through tests that provide your doctor information about the functionality of your inner ear organs.

The auditory brainstem implant uses technology similar to that of the cochlear implant, but instead of electrical stimulation being used to stimulate the cochlea, it is used to stimulate the brainstem of the recipient.