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Tympanometry

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Updated June 12, 2009

Definition:

Tympanometry testing is used to assess the condition of the ear drum and middle ear. It is performed by inserting a tympanometer into the ear canal. Prior to tympanometry testing, the physician will visualize the ear canal to evaluate for obstruction such as from impacted earwax. The tympanometer looks like an otoscope. However, it delivers soundwaves, while a vacuum creates both positive and negative pressures within the ear canal. The returned energy creates a waveform that a physician can use to evaluate for disorders of the middle ear. This wave form is called a tympanogram. No risks are associated with this test. Possible disorders of the middle ear that can be evaluated by tympanometry include:

  • acute otitis media
  • tympanosclerosis
  • tumor in the middle ear
  • tympanic membrane scarring
  • perforated tympanic membrane
  • otosclerosis
  • cholesteatoma

Sources:

Medline Plus. Tympanometry. Accessed March 28, 2009 from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003390.htm

Onusko, E. (2004). Tympanometry. In American Family Physician. 70:9 1713-20. http://www.aafp.org/afp/20041101/1713.pdf

Weber, P.C. Evaluation of hearing loss in adults. www.uptodate.com. January, 2009. (subscription required)

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