Children with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) should undergo a comprehensive medical evaluation to determine the underlying etiology and help guide treatment and counseling. In this article, we review the indications and rationale for medical evaluation of pediatric bilateral SNHL, including history and physical examination, imaging, genetic testing, specialist referrals, cytomegalovirus (CMV) testing, and other laboratory tests. Workup begins with a history and physical examination, which can provide clues to the etiology of SNHL, particularly with syndromic causes. If SNHL is diagnosed within the first 3 weeks of life, CMV testing should be performed to identify patients that may benefit from antiviral treatment. If SNHL is diagnosed after 3 weeks, testing can be done using dried blood spots samples, if testing capability is available. Genetic testing is oftentimes successful in identifying causes of hearing loss as a result of recent technological advances in testing and an ever-increasing number of identified genes and genetic mutations. Therefore, where available, genetic testing should be performed, ideally with next generation sequencing techniques. Ophthalmological evaluation must be done on all children with SNHL. Imaging (high-resolution computed tomography and/or magnetic resonance imaging) should be performed to assess for anatomic causes of hearing loss and to determine candidacy for cochlear implantation when indicated. Laboratory testing is indicated for certain etiologies, but should not be ordered indiscriminately since the yield overall is low.
- bilateral sensorineural hearing loss
- genetic testing
- medical evaluation
- medical workup
- pediatric sensorineural hearing loss