Wideband absorbance and absorbed power were evaluated in a group of subjects with surgically confirmed otosclerosis (Oto group), mean age 51.6 years. This is the first use of absorbed power in the assessment of middle ear disorders. Results were compared with control data from two groups of adults, one with normal hearing (NH group) mean age of 31 years, and one that was age- and sex-matched with the Oto group and had sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL group). The goal was to assess group differences using absorbance and absorbed power, to determine test performance in detecting otosclerosis, and to evaluate preoperative and postoperative test results.
Audiometric and wideband tests were performed over frequencies up to 8 kHz. The three groups were compared on wideband tests using analysis of variance to assess group mean differences. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was also used to assess test accuracy at classifying ears as belonging to the Oto or control groups using the area under the ROC curve (AUC). A longitudinal design was used to compare preoperative and postoperative results at 3 and 6 months.
There were significant mean differences in the wideband parameters between the Oto and control groups with generally lower absorbance and absorbed power for the Oto group at ambient and tympanometric peak pressure (TPP) depending on frequency. The SNHL group had more significant differences with the Oto group than did the NH group in the high frequencies for absorbed power at ambient pressure and tympanometric absorbed power at TPP, as well as for the tympanometric tails. The greatest accuracy for classifying ears as being in the Oto group or a control group was for absorbed power at ambient pressure at 0.71 kHz with an AUC of 0.81 comparing the Oto and NH groups. The greatest accuracy for an absorbance measure was for the comparison between the Oto and NH groups for the peak-to-negative tail condition with an AUC of 0.78. In contrast, the accuracy for classifying ears into the control or Oto groups for static acoustic admittance at 226 Hz was near chance performance, which is consistent with previous findings. There were significant mean differences between preoperative and postoperative tests for absorbance and absorbed power.
Consistent with previous studies, wideband absorbance showed better sensitivity for detecting the effects of otosclerosis on middle ear function than static acoustic admittance at 226 Hz. This study showed that wideband absorbed power is similarly sensitive and may perform even better in some instances than absorbance at classifying ears as having otosclerosis. The use of a group that was age- and sex-matched to the Oto group generally resulted in greater differences between groups in the high frequencies for absorbed power, suggesting that age-related norms in adults may be useful for the wideband clinical applications. Absorbance and absorbed power appear useful for monitoring changes in middle ear function following surgery for otosclerosis.