Skip navigation

Tympanometry

Tympanometry is a test used to detect problems in the middle ear.

How the Test is Performed

Before the test, your health care provider will look inside your ear to make sure nothing is blocking the eardrum.

Next, a device is placed into your ear. This device changes the air pressure in your ear and makes the eardrum move back and forth. A machine records the results on graphs called tympanograms.

How to Prepare for the Test

You should not move, speak, or swallow during the test. Such movements can change the pressure in the middle ear and give incorrect test results.

The sounds heard during the test may be loud. This may be startling. You will need to try very hard to stay calm and not get startled during the test. If your child is to have this test done, it may be helpful to show how the test is done using a doll. The more you child knows what to expect and why the test is done, the less nervous your child will be.

How the Test Will Feel

There may be some discomfort while the probe is in the ear, but no harm will result. You will hear a loud tone and feel pressure in your ear as the measurements are taken.

Why the Test is Performed

This test measures how your ear reacts to sound and different pressures.

Normal Results

The pressure inside the middle ear can vary by a very small amount. The eardrum should look smooth.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Tympanometry may reveal any of the following:

  • A tumor in the middle ear
  • Fluid in the middle ear
  • Impacted ear wax
  • Lack of contact between the conduction bones of the middle ear
  • Perforated ear drum
  • Scarring of the tympanic membrane

Alternative Names

Tympanogram

References

Kerschner JE. Otitis media. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics.19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 632.

Casselbrant ML, Mandel EM. Acute otitis media and otitismedia with effusion. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund LJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology:Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2010:chap194.

Update Date: 5/10/2013

Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

A.D.A.M Quality Logo

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 1997-2014, A.D.A.M., Inc. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized in writing by ADAM Health Solutions.

A.D.A.M Logo