What is tympanometry?

Tympanometry is a test to evaluate the functioning of the middle ear and the tympanic membrane. The test measures the movement of the tympanic membrane in response to changes in pressure. The results are recorded on a graph called a tympanogram.

Why is tympanometry performed?

The test can diagnose disorders that lead to hearing loss and is especially used in children. The test helps to determine if there is:

  • Fluid in the middle ear
  • An infection in the middle ear (otitis)
  • A tear in the membrane
  • A problem with the Eustachian tube

What happens during tympanometry?

The ear specialist will check your ear canal with an otoscope to ensure that there is no earwax or foreign object there. They will then place a probe-type device in your ear canal. You may hear loud tones as the device takes measurements.

The tympanometry test changes the air pressure in your ear to make the eardrum move back and forth. You will not be able to move, talk or swallow during the test. The tests last for about two minutes for both ears. It may be more difficult to perform the test on children who may not want to cooperate and the doctor will show them what will happen beforehand using a doll.

What do my test results mean?

Test results are normal if there is no fluid in the middle ear, the eardrum moves normally, there is normal pressure in the middle ear and there is normal movement of the ossicles, which are the small bones of the middle ear, and the eardrum.

Abnormal test results show the opposite, if there is fluid in the middle ear, perforation or scarring of the eardrum, middle ear pressure, earwax blocking the eardrum or lack of mobility of the small bones in the ear.

Are there any risks in having tympanometry?

There are no known risks related to the tympanometry test.

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