Audiology Answers for Otolaryngologists, 2nd ed

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Review by L Flood
Middlesborough, UK

After a decade or two as an examiner, or when training examination candidates on courses, I am convinced that we now have a generation of UK otolaryngologists who would be very unlikely to understand many of the questions posed here, let alone provide any answers.

In the days before modern imaging and objective audiometry, we hunted the acoustic with tests for tone decay and recruitment. Audiologists would labour in cubicles for hours, to measure speech discrimination or try to stimulate a stapedius muscle to twitch, and it did behove the clinicians to have some understanding of the findings. With modern computerisation (as long as virus-free) and automation, I think few of us can progress beyond reading the concluding sentence of any report.

This little pocket book hopes to cure that, by stimulating trainees to learn more about what does go on in those sound-proofed rooms, or why that chair is spinning around in pitch darkness. It presents highlighted questions on every page and a paragraph or two of answers, tables, and monochrome illustrations. That format is quite appealing, especially for the casual browser (to which I must here confess). There are six chapters and it is probably worth listing them: Psychoacoustics, Audiometric Testing, Vestibular Rehabilitation, Amplification, Paediatric Audiology and Doctoral Education in Audiology (I was not sure that last one really ‘worked’ here), all updated for this second edition.

I thought it was ambitious to pose, as the very opening question, ‘what is the difference between dB HL and dB SPL?’. No trainee has ever yet asked me ‘what is the dynamic subjective visual vertical test?’, for which I give thanks. The abundance of waveforms and tables does make for a daunting read, but it may well be that US residents in otolaryngology are far more cerebral than their UK counterparts. If one did settle down for a long day and read this from cover to cover, the result would be an outstanding grounding in the science of audiology, even if triangles on a pure tone audiogram do mean something totally different across the pond (beware).

This is a worthy book and very good value. There is everything from the most basic principles of masking or tympanometry, to advanced (sometimes very much so) testing of vestibular function. I did struggle, at times, but feel better for it. Trainees might need much senior pressure to digest its contents, but if there was any sug- gestion that this might suddenly become de rigueur for the final examination (the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons’ Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (‘FRCS-ORLHNS’) examination), this book would be a godsend. The challenge would be to find the examiners with such knowledge!

Amazon Link: Audiology Answers for Otolaryngologists, 2nd ed
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