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The Department of Audiology plays a crucial role in the management of hearing health both for children referred in from the general outpatient community and for children being medically managed through other departments within the hospital. Referrals are recieved from many sources such as the Children's Cancer Centre, VIHSP (Victorian Infant Hearing Screening Program), speech pathologists, otolaryngologists, developmental medicine, paediatricians and general practitioners.
Generally a doctor's referral is required, however, for a child's first visit, a referral from other health care professionals will be accepted. Referrals need to be received prior to an appointment being made. The referrals can be faxed or posted to the department. The referral should include the following details:
The clinic assesses all children from birth through to 18 years of age. A variety of test techniques ranging from behavioural audiometric testing to objective electrophysiological testing are offered.
Behavioural audiometry includes: Behavioural Observation Audiometry (BOA) for infants 6-10 months of age, Visual Reinforcement Audiometry (VRA) for infants 10 months to approximately 2 and a half years of age, Play Audiometry for children 2 years to approximately 5 years of age and standard pure-tone audiometry (PTA) for children over 5 years of age. However, the type of assessment performed is dependent on the child's developmental age.
Objective electrophysiological testing includes: ABR (Auditory Brainstem Response) testing (including tone-burst ABR), OAE (Otoacoustic Emissions) tests and ASSR (Auditory Steady State Response) testing. These assessments are performed during an infant's natural sleep or when an older child is under a mild sedation or general anaesthesia.
Audio-led assessments: unique to the RCH Audiology clinic, and includes an additional otoscopic examination of the ears. Specially trained senior audiologists perform pneumatic otoscopy in place of that which would generally be performed by an ENT specialist.
Infant assessments: Full-term babies are ideally assessed at 4-6 weeks of age, and premature babies are assessed at approximately 4 weeks corrected age. Electrophysiological testing is performed while the baby is asleep. Babies older than these preferred age ranges are often more difficult to settle in an unfamiliar environment. Please bring your baby ready to sleep (not asleep). Quiet, dimmed-lighting rooms for parents/carers to feed and settle their babies before testing begins are available. Appointments have been arranged to allow for settling to occur during the allocated appointment time.
Currently there is no waiting time for ABR assessments.
All other assessments have a waiting time of at least 4 weeks. Urgent referrals are typically seen within the week of recieving the referral, and urgency is a clinical decision made by the Audiologists.
For concerned referrers, please call the Audiology department on 9345 5522 and ask to speak to an Audiologist, to discuss the referral.
New Diagnosis Clinic
For children newly diagnosed with a permanent hearing loss, a New Diagnosis Clinic is offered. All children referred to the New Diagnosis clinic will have a repeat audiology assessment prior to seeing an otolaryngologist. This clinic provides ENT/Audiologic opinion and management of children with a newly diagnosed hearing loss.
If this is the child's first visit to the hospital (excluding visits to the emergency department), arrive a few minutes ahead of the scheduled appointment time to complete a patient detail form.
It is important for the test booth to be quiet and distraction free for the child's hearing test. Please bring along a helper to mind other children during the hearing test appointment. There are numerous activities at the new hospital such as the meerkat exhibit, the aquarium, the Starlight room and the outdoor playground to keep other children and their minder occupied.
For more information contact the Audiology Department at the Royal Children's Hospital on 9345 5522.