Background: Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) is an otologic emergency that warrants urgent management. Pure-tone audiometry remains the gold standard for definitively diagnosing SSNHL. However, in clinical settings such as primary care practices and urgent care facilities, conventional pure-tone audiometry is often unavailable. Objective: This study aimed to determine the correlation between hearing outcomes measured by conventional pure-tone audiometry and those measured by the proposed smartphone-based Ear Scale app and determine the diagnostic validity of the hearing scale differences between the two ears as obtained by the Ear Scale app for SSNHL. Methods: This cross-sectional study included a cohort of 88 participants with possible SSNHL who were referred to an otolaryngology clinic or emergency department at a tertiary medical center in Taipei, Taiwan, between January 2018 and June 2019. All participants underwent hearing assessments with conventional pure-tone audiometry and the proposed smartphone-based Ear Scale app consecutively. The gold standard for diagnosing SSNHL was defined as the pure-tone average (PTA) difference between the two ears being ≥30 dB HL. The hearing results measured by the Ear Scale app were presented as 20 stratified hearing scales. The hearing scale difference between the two ears was estimated to detect SSNHL. Results: The study sample comprised 88 adults with a mean age of 46 years, and 50% (44/88) were females. PTA measured by conventional pure-tone audiometry was strongly correlated with the hearing scale assessed by the Ear Scale app, with a Pearson correlation coefficient of .88 (95% CI .82-.92). The sensitivity of the 5–hearing scale difference (25 dB HL difference) between the impaired ear and the contralateral ear in diagnosing SSNHL was 95.5% (95% CI 87.5%-99.1%), with a specificity of 66.7% (95% CI 43.0%-85.4%). Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the proposed smartphone-based Ear Scale app can be useful in the evaluation of SSNHL in clinical settings where conventional pure-tone audiometry is not available.
|Journal||JMIR mHealth and uHealth|
|State||Published - Nov 2020|
- Hearing test
- Mobile apps
- Pure tone
- Sudden sensorineural hearing loss