Published online May 28, 2015. doi: 10.5319/wjo.v5.i2.53
Peer-review started: November 11, 2014
First decision: January 8, 2015
Revised: January 23, 2015
Accepted: February 10, 2015
Article in press: February 12, 2015
Published online: May 28, 2015
Otitis media is a frequent problem in preschool children and one of the most common reasons for treatment with antibiotics in children. The exact diagnosis is important for proper management. The diagnosis of otitis media is often difficult. Pneumatic otoscopy, otomicroscopy, and tympanometry can improve the diagnostic quality by indicating fluid or no fluid in the middle ear and thus improve the quality of treatment. The aim of this review is to explain why and how tympanometry can improve the diagnostic quality in otitis media, and to identify some barriers and difficulties encountered when using tympanometry in daily practice. The current literature on tympanometry and own experiences during 38 years are used to elucidate the aim. Tympanometry is difficult to understand and use, when the procedure is not properly trained. The problems are both of a technical nature, and it is difficult to understand and use the information from the curve and the figures on the display. If the use of tympanometry in general practice is increased, the diagnostic quality will improve and hopefully antibiotics will be prescribed on more appropriate indications and less frequently. More demand on tympanometry will hopefully reduce the price of the tympanometer, making it more accessible for GPs. First in that situation the use will be nearly as common as the use of the otoscope.
Core tip: The aim of this review is to explain why and how tympanometry can improve the diagnostic quality in otitis media, and to identify some barriers and difficulties in using tympanometry in daily practice.