Tympanometry in Ear Infections (Otitis Media)

Tympanometry in Ear Infections (Otitis Media)

Exam Overview

Tympanometry tests the movement of the eardrum when an ear infection or other middle ear problem is suspected. A doctor places the tip of a handheld tool into the child's ear. The tool changes the air pressure inside the ear and produces a clear tone. Then the tool measures how the eardrum responds to the pressure and the sound. The results of this test are used to help figure out what is going on in the ear.

Why It Is Done

The results of tympanometry can tell doctors whether there is fluid behind the eardrum or whether an ear tube is blocked. The test can also discover whether there is a hole in the eardrum. This information helps doctors decide what kind of treatment your child may need.

Results

Normally the eardrum moves easily when pressure in the ear canal is changed. Most of the time, if the test is normal, there is no fluid behind the eardrum.

When the eustachian tube, which connects the back of the nose and throat with the middle ear, is not working well, the eardrum does not move as it should. But in some cases the test shows fluid behind the eardrum when there really is none.

What To Think About

If the child is crying or unable to hold still, tympanometry may be difficult or impossible to do. Crying and movement can cause incorrect results. Earwax can also cause false results. If there is a lot of earwax, it may be cleared out before the test begins. This test may not be useful for babies younger than 7 months because the results can be misleading.

Before the test, let your child know what is going to happen. This will help keep your child calm and still during the test. At home before the test, you can play "pretend ear exam" so your child can practice sitting still. Also, explain that loud noises are part of the test.

Related Information

Credits

Current as ofMarch 27, 2018

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website, and its associated websites, is provided as a benefit to the local community, and the Internet community in general; it does not constitute medical advice. We try to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. As medical advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each patient and healthcare is constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of a competent physician. Furthermore, in providing this service, Adventist HealthCare does not condone or support all of the content covered in this site. As an Adventist health care organization, Adventist HealthCare acts in accordance with the ethical and religious directives for Adventist health care services.

Find a Doctor

Find an Adventist HealthCare affiliated doctor by calling our FREE physician referral service at 800-642-0101 or by searching our online physician directory.

View Doctors

Set Your Location

Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.