PURPOSE OF REVIEW:
Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is the most common sensory birth defect. The purpose of this article is to review the advances in next-generation sequencing (NGS) and molecular diagnosis of hereditary hearing loss.
Early diagnosis and detection of SNHL is critical for the development of appropriate speech and language, as neuroplasticity peaks in the first few years of life. There has been increased accuracy of NGS genetic testing, which has helped created a paradigm shift in the diagnosis of hearing loss. The diagnostic yield of genetic testing now approaches that of radiographic imaging; however, there remains a difference in cost and time delay. With the introduction of comprehensive genetic panels, 23-129 genes can be sequenced from the same blood sample.
Diagnostic genetic testing of SNHL in the past has been confined to a few genes through Sanger sequencing. The advent of NGS allows for development of comprehensive genetic panels, which test for up to 129 genes while improving the accuracy and efficiency of testing. This type of testing may become more common as the costs decrease and more genes are discovered.