QS Study

Common test with a tuning fork to distinguish between Conductive and Nerve Deafness

Deafness resulting from impaired sound transmission in the external or middle ear is known as conduction deafness. Deafness due to damage to the hair cells or neural pathways is known as nerve deafness. The tuning fork tests provide a reliable clinical method for assessing hearing loss. They are most useful in patients with a unilateral hearing loss which is purely conductive or purely sensor neural.

A common test to distinguish between conductive and nerve deafness:

Weber test:

  • Method: Base of vibrating tuning fork placed on the vertex of the skull.
  • Normal: Hears equally on both sides.
  • Conduction deafness (one ear): Sound loud in the diseased car because the masking effect of environmental noise is absent on diseased side.
  • Nerve deafness (one ear): Sound louder in the normal ear.

Fig: test with a tuning fork

Rinne test:

  • Method: Base of vibrating tuning fork placed on the mastoid process until subject no longer hears it, then held in the air next to the ear.
  • Normal: Hears vibration in the air after bone conduction is over.
  • Conduction deafness (one ear): Vibrations in the air not heard after bone conduction is over.
  • Nerve deafness (one ear): Vibration heard in the air after bone conduction is over as long as nerve deafness is partial.
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