These tests evaluate the function of the middle ear system and are very helpful in diagnosing common problems such as otitis media (ear infection) or ruptured eardrums.
During this test, a probe is inserted into the ear canal and pressure is applied to the tympanic membrane (eardrum). The compliance of the tympanic membrane is measured and recorded. The pressure of the middle ear space is also recorded.
Acoustic Reflex Testing
An interesting reflex is present in most ears in which the stapedius muscle contracts in response to a loud input. During acoustic reflex testing, the level at which the contraction occurs is measured and recorded. This provides important information about hearing ability and the integrity of the reflex pathway.
Eustachian Tube Function
The eustachian tube is pathway between the middle ear system and the throat. The popping sensation that you experience during flight or descending in water is the result of this tube properly pressuring the middle ear space. Testing can indicate if this pathway is functioning properly.
Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emissions
This is a very useful test in evaluating the hearing ability of very young children or newborns. No response from the patient is needed to determine hearing status and it is quick and painless. Otoacoustic Emissions are also helpful in monitoring the hearing status of individuals receiving chemotherapy or to diagnose early onset hearing loss from noise exposure.
A small foam tip is placed in the ear canal and two tones are presented. These two tones interact in a special way in the healthy cochlea to produce a third, novel tone. Presentations across many different pitches allow the audiologist to evaluate the function of the cochlea across those pitches by the measurement of the third, novel tone. The test takes about one minute per ear and is an excellent means of measuring hearing status in children under 3 years of age.