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Tympanometry for Ear Infections (Otitis Media)

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.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: April 15, 2020

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