Rinne’s test is one of the tuning fork tests (512 Hz fork preferred), which is used to define whether there is a conductive element to hearing loss. The patient is asked to compare the loudness of a vibrating tuning fork held at the external auditory meatus (air conduction; AC) with the loudness of the fork held against the mastoid process (bone conduction; BC); masking of the other ear, for example by rubbing the tragus, is advised. Normally air conduction is louder (AC > BC). If bone conduction sounds louder (BC > AC), then this is indicative of a conductive hearing loss. In sensorineural hearing loss, AC and BC are diminished to a similar extent, and air conduction remains louder (AC > BC).
Miyamoto RT, Wynne MK. Approach to the patient with hearing loss. In: Biller J (ed.). Practical neurology (2nd edition). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2002: 206-226