Research Article

Study of middle ear disease using tympanometry in general practice.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985; 290 doi: (Published 29 June 1985) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985;290:1953
  1. R Reves,
  2. R Budgett,
  3. D Miller,
  4. J Wadsworth,
  5. A Haines


    Tympanometry was used to provide evidence of middle ear effusions in a prospective study of middle ear disease in 264 children aged 3 months to 6 years in general practice. Adequate measurements on both ears were obtained in 220 children, of whom 68 (31%) had evidence of middle ear effusion in one ear (29 children) or both ears (39 children) at entry to the study. In 28 (42%) of the 68 children persistence of the tympanometric findings was recorded for at least three months. Children of European descent were more likely to have evidence of middle ear effusion at the initial examination compared with African and West Indian children, as were those children whose siblings had a positive history of otitis media compared with those whose siblings had no such history. Children under 3 years were more likely to have evidence of an effusion than older children. Middle ear effusion as shown by tympanometry was not associated with a previous history of otitis media in the child but was associated with recent symptoms of respiratory infection or otalgia. A previous consultation for otitis media was, however, strongly associated with a greater likelihood of a consultation for otitis media during the follow up period. Comparing evidence of effusion by tympanometry with that by pneumatic otoscopy showed that using the appearance of the eardrum alone the sensitivity of otoscopy was 55%; the addition of mobility improved the sensitivity to 76% with little reduction in specificity. Further studies on populations using tympanometry are needed to determine the natural history, aetiology, and indications for referring children with middle ear effusion.