To evaluate the usefulness of tinnitus tests in differentiating patients with functional tinnitus from patients with organic tinnitus.
One hundred ninety-six patients with tinnitus were divided into 2 groups. Forty-three patients, group 1, were not exposed to noise and had sensorineural hearing loss. One hundred fifty-three patients, group 2, were exposed to noise and claimed disability. All the patients underwent 4 tinnitus evaluation tests: pitch matching, intensity matching, residual inhibition, and tinnitus masking. We compared the results of the tinnitus tests between the 2 groups.
Group 1 patients had a high-frequency, low-intensity tinnitus that tended to be more inhibited by narrow-band noise, was usually consistent with type I Feldman masking curve, and could be effectively masked. Group 2 patients had tinnitus that could not be characterized. The results of the tinnitus tests were significantly different between the groups.
Tinnitus tests may help us differentiate functional tinnitus that is not of cochlear origin from genuine tinnitus.