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Evaluation of Portable Tablet-Based Audiometry in a South Indian Population

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Abstract

While a comprehensive booth audiogram is the gold standard for diagnosis of hearing loss, access to this may not be available in remote and low resource settings. The aims of this study were to validate a tablet-based audiometer in a tertiary medical center in India and explore its capacity in improving access to hearing healthcare. Subjects presenting to Ear–Nose–Throat clinics for conventional booth audiometry testing were recruited for subsequent tablet-based audiometric testing. Testing with the tablet was conducted in a non-sound-treated hospital clinic room. Bilateral air and bone conduction hearing threshold data from 250 through 4000 Hz were validated against conventional booth audiometry. In addition, a small feasibility study was conducted in rural clinics. 70 participants (37 adults and 33 children between the ages 5–18) were assessed. 69% were male, with a mean age of 29.7 years. Sensitivity and specificity for the tablet were 89% (95% CI 80–94%) and 70% (95% CI 56–82%), respectively. While median differences in air conduction thresholds between conventional and tablet audiograms showed statistical significance at 250, 500, and 1000 Hz (p < 0.001), the threshold results of the tablet audiometer were within 5 dB of the conventional audiogram and not clinically significant. Ten patients were successfully screened in rural clinics with tablet audiometry. Tablet portable audiometry is a valid tool for air and bone conduction threshold assessment outside of conventional sound booths. It can accurately identify hearing impairment and offers a screening tool for hearing loss in low resource settings.

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All authors had access to the data and a role in writing the manuscript.

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Acknowledgements

Shannon Kraft, MD for her guidance in developing this project

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Correspondence to P Naina.

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Yalamanchali, S., Albert, R.R., Staecker, H. et al. Evaluation of Portable Tablet-Based Audiometry in a South Indian Population. Indian J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12070-020-02094-3

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Keywords

  • Tablet audiogram
  • Portable audiogram
  • Global hearing health
  • Hearing loss
  • Screening