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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 94  |  Page : 101--111

Utility of otoacoustic emissions and olivocochlear reflex in predicting vulnerability to noise-induced inner ear damage

1 Department of Otorhinolaryngology − Head and Neck Surgery, 424 Military Hospital of Thessaloniki, Perifereiaki Odos Efkarpias, Greece
2 1st Department of Otorhinolaryngology − Head and Neck Surgery, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, AHEPA Hospital, Thessaloniki, Greece

Correspondence Address:
Konstantinos Markou
2nd Department of Otorhinolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, Papageorgiou Hospital, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Ringroad, Municipality Pavlou Mela New Eukarpia, 54636, Thessaloniki
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/nah.NAH_61_17

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Aim: The aim of the present study was to explore the possible utility of otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) and efferent system strength to determine vulnerability to noise exposure in a clinical setting. Materials and Methods: The study group comprised 344 volunteers who had just begun mandatory basic training as Hellenic Corps Officers Military Academy cadets. Pure-tone audiograms were obtained on both ears. Participants were also subjected to diagnostic transient-evoked otoacoustic emissions (TEOAEs). Finally, they were all tested for efferent function through the suppression of TEOAEs with contralateral noise. Following baseline evaluation, all cadets fired 10 rounds using a 7.62 mm Heckler & Koch G3A3 assault rifle while lying down in prone position. Immediately after exposure to gunfire noise and no later than 10 h, all participants completed an identical protocol for a second time, which was then repeated a third time, 30 days later. Results: The data showed that after the firing drill, 280 participants suffered a temporary threshold shift (TTS) (468 ears), while in the third evaluation conducted 30 days after exposure, 142 of these ears still presented a threshold shift compared to the baseline evaluation [permanent threshold shift (PTS) ears]. A receiver operating characteristics curve analysis showed that OAEs amplitude is predictive of future TTS and PTS. The results were slightly different for the suppression of OAEs showing only a slight trend toward significance. The curves were used to determine cut points to evaluate the likelihood of TTS/PTS for OAEs amplitude in the baseline evaluation. Decision limits yielding 71.6% sensitivity were 12.45 dB SPL with 63.8% specificity for PTS, and 50% sensitivity were 12.35 dB SPL with 68.2% specificity for TTS. Conclusions: Interestingly, the above data yielded tentative evidence to suggest that OAEs amplitude is both sensitive and specific enough to efficiently identify participants who are particularly susceptible to hearing loss caused by impulse noise generated by firearms. Hearing conservation programs may therefore want to consider including such tests in their routine. As far as efferent strength is concerned, we feel that further research is due, before implementing the suppression of OAEs in hearing conservations programs in a similar manner.


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