Acoustic otoscopy in the diagnosis of otitis media

Dietrich Jehle, Eric Cottington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Acoustic otoscopy detects middle ear pathology by measuring the ability of the tympanic membrane to reflect sound. Fluid or thickening of the tympanic membrane increases sound reflection. We conducted a study to compare acoustic otoscopy with pneumatic otoscopy in identifying middle ear pathology in 80 children (160 ears) presenting to the emergency department with ear or upper respiratory complaints. We then evaluated the use of acoustic otoscopy in 34 adults (68 ears) with and without ear complaints. Using a reflectivity of 5 or more units to signify acute pathology in children, the sensitivity was 82%, and the specificity was 100%. Using a reflectivity of 6 or more units to indicate acute suppurative pathology in adults, the sensitivity was 83%, and the specificity was 95%. We found acoustic otoscopy to be objective, practical, and reproducible. We conclude that acoustic otoscopy is a valuable adjunct in the diagnosis of otitis media in children and adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)396-400
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Emergency Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • acoustic otoscopy
  • otitis media, diagnosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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