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Auditory brain stem responses in chronic alcoholic patients


Auditory brain stem responses (ABRs) were obtained from 66 chronic alcoholic patients. Forty-one percent of the patients had abnormal ABR indicated by prolonged interwave intervals. The incidence of brain stem abnormalities was related to age, the type and number of alcoholic neurological complications, and cerebral atrophy in computerized tomographic (CT) scan. There was a progressive increase in the incidence of abnormal ABRs with age and the number of alcoholic neurological diseases. Among the neurological complications of alcoholism, patients with cerebellar degeneration had the highest incidence of abnormal ABRs (83%). There was a high correlation between cerebral atrophy in CT scan and abnormal ABRs. The data suggest that laboratory methods such as the ABR and CT scan are useful in evaluating the extent of CNS abnormalities in alcoholic patients.

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