This study assessed the role of otoacoustic emission screening for the early identification of noise-induced hearing loss in South African mineworkers. Transient otoacoustic emissions and distortion product otoacoustic emissions were recorded in 106 noise exposed mineworkers (212 ears) aged between 20 and 55 years, and in 17 non-exposed novice workers (34 ears) aged between 18 and 29 years. All subjects had normal hearing acuity, otoscopic examinations and immittance measurements. Four otoacoustic emission (OAE) measurements were taken per ear and repeated by a second audiologist for the evaluation of inter-test reliability. Age and number of years of noise exposure was additionally evaluated as well as the specificity and sensitivity of the tests for this population group. In general the OAEs were diminished at four KHz for both the exposed and non-exposed groups. Age was found to be the primary predictor of diminished OAE tracings. Poor inter-test reliability was obtained. These results indicate that further research is required within this population group before OAE testing can be implemented for screening for noise-induced hearing loss.
Dissertation (M (Communication Pathology))--University of Pretoria, 2006.