Rinne and Weber test

What are the Weber and Rinne tests?

The Weber and Rinne tests are two clinical hearing assessment techniques that help diagnose the type of hearing impairment the patient suffers from. Particularly, these tests can quickly determine whether the patient is dealing with a conductive or sensorineural hearing loss, which must be treated at an early stage to avoid permanent hearing loss.

Weber test

Weber's test is the first test a patient with a hearing loss problem undergoes. Together with Rinne's test, it can help diagnose conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.

Procedure

The Weber test is a test for lateralization:

  1. The examiner strikes a tuning fork strongly on their palm or knee,
  2. then presses the butt of the instrument on the top of the patient's head in the midline
  3. with their other hand, the examiner exerts counter pressure on the back of the patient's head
  4. the patient is then asked to indicate whether he can feel it louder on the left, right, or center.

Results

If the person can hear the sound louder in the healthy ear, then the person has sensorineural hearing loss; if the person perceives the louder sound in their affected ear, then the person has conductive hearing loss.
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Rinne test

Rinne's test is a complementary clinical hearing assessment test to Weber's test. It is used to tell whether the hearing loss is conductive or sensorineural.

Procedure

  • The examiner strikes a tuning fork, then they place it approximately 2 cm away from the external auditory meatus.
  • After 2-3 seconds, the base of the fork is pressed against the mastoid, using the examiner's other hand to provide contralateral counterpressure.
  • The patient is then asked which sound was perceived the loudest.

Results

If the patient hears the sound with the tuning fork in place, but not while it is held close, the problem is in the outer or middle ear (conductive hearing loss). If the patient does not respond to either stimuli, the problem is in the receptors or auditory pathways (sensorineural hearing loss).

Weber and Rinne tests: when are they necessary?

Weber and Rinne's tests are necessary for those who have difficulty hearing out of one ear: it's important to perform them early on so the condition can be treated at an early stage, perhaps by adopting a hearing aid. 

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