To examine otoacoustic emission and tympanometric findings in children with surgically confirmed middle ear effusion (MEE).
A total of 102 children aged 0.7 to 11.4 yr undergoing surgery because of otitis media were included in the study. A tympanometric examination and transient evoked otoacoustic emission (TEOAE) measurement were performed on each ear before myringotomy. MEE was aspirated, weighed and classified as mucoid or nonmucoid. TEOAE measurements were compared with the quantity and quality of MEE and to the tympanometric findings.
Fifty (72%) ears out of the 65 ears containing effusion showed reduced TEOAE. The quantity of effusion was associated significantly (p < 0.001) with the TEOAE responses, and mucoid effusion reduced the emissions more than nonmucoid. The sensitivity of tympanometry in identifying the ears without recordable TEOAE was 73% and the specificity 81%.
MEE results in a significant reduction in TEOAEs even when the effusion is nonmucoid. This suggests that transmission of acoustic energy to and from the middle ear is altered in children experiencing any form of otitis media with effusion.