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Doctor acquires state's first hearing testing gear

Dr. Robert Hartenstein, an audiologist associated with the Porter ENT and Audiology medical practice on Exchange Street in Middlebury, has acquired the first non-sedated Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) system in Vermont. This state-of-the-art system allows for non-sedated hearing testing of newborns and other patients, and provides highly accurate results without the risks associated with general anesthesia.

According to Hartenstein, Vermont requires that all newborns be screened for hearing loss before leaving the hospital. Any newborn who fails this test is referred for re-evaluation with a specialist.

"About one out of every 1,000 children is born deaf, and many more are born with hearing impairment," Dr. Hartenstein said. "Early testing allows for immediate identification of the problem so that treatment can begin sooner, but until now this testing had required full sedation."

The ABR is a measurement of how the brain reacts to sound and to determine how well sound travels along the auditory nerve pathways from the ear to the brainstem. A computer analyzes changes in brain waves in response to the sounds.

"This technology is perfect for infants, children or any patient who is difficult to test or who cannot be evaluated by traditional hearing tests," he said.

In adults, ABR can identify central nervous system lesions, such as auditory neuropathy, and auditory dys-synchrony, which are not detectable by Magnetic Resonance

Imaging (MRI). It's also helpful in differential diagnosis of patients with dizziness.

Hartenstein will be using this new equipment to serve his patients in Middlebury at the Porter ENT and Audiology practice, as well as at his practice in Rutland.

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