Assessment of the Brainstem-Mediated Stapedius Muscle Reflex in Andean Children Living at High Altitudes

S. Allen Counter, Leo H. Buchanan, Fernando Ortega, Anthony B. Jacobs, Göran Laurell

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3 Scopus citations


Counter, S. Allen, Leo H. Buchanan, Fernando Ortega, Anthony B. Jacobs, and Göran Laurell. Assessment of the brainstem-mediated stapedius muscle reflex in Andean children living at high altitudes. High Alt Med Biol. 18:37-45, 2017.-This study examined the physiological thresholds, amplitude growth, and contraction duration of the acoustic stapedius reflex (ASR) in Andean children aged 2-17 years living at altitudes of 2850 m (Altitude I Group) and 3973 m (Altitude II Group) as part of a general medical assessment of the health status of the children. The brainstem-mediated ASR reveals the integrity of the neuronal components of the auditory reflex arc, including the cochlea receptors, eight cranial nerves, and brainstem neural projections to the cochlear nuclei, bilateral superior olivary nuclei, facial nerve nuclei, and facial nerve and its stapedius branch. Uncrossed (ipsilateral) and crossed (contralateral) ASR thresholds (ASRT), ASR amplitude growth (ASRG) function, and ASR muscle contraction duration (decay/fatigue) (ASRD) were measured noninvasively with 500, 1000 Hz and broadband (bandwidth = 125-4000 Hz) noise stimulus activators using a middle ear immittance system. Oxygen saturation (SaO2) level and heart rate were measured in a subsample of the study group. Statistical analyses revealed that the Altitude I and Altitude II groups had ASRT, ASRG function, and ASRD rates comparable to children at sea level and that the two groups were not significantly different for any of the ASR measures. No significant association was found between SaO2 or heart rate and ASRT, growth, and muscle fatigue rate. In conclusion, the assessment of the ASR in children in the high-altitude groups revealed normal function. Furthermore, the results indicate no adverse oto-physiological effects of altitude on the brainstem-mediated ASR at elevations between 2850 and 4000 m and suggest normal middle ear and auditory brainstem function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-45
Number of pages9
JournalHigh Altitude Medicine and Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2017


  • Andean
  • altitude
  • auditory
  • brainstem
  • children
  • hearing
  • hypoxia
  • stapedius reflex


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