Glue Ear: Guide

Katy Mitchell | View as single page | Feedback/Impact


Tympanometry is the only method, which can give reliable information about the existence of middle ear fluid and has been used in various studies to try to assess the prevalence of Glue Ear.

It is a simple test, which is carried out by placing a small probe in the ear canal.  A pressure is applied to the eardrum and the equipment measures how compliant the eardrum is to the change in pressure.  In a healthy ear, the eardrum will move back and forth and this will be recorded by the machine as a peaked curve, showing normal middle ear pressure.  When there is fluid present in the middle ear, the eardrum will be rigid and this will result in a flat line on the graph.

Tympanograms provide information about the compliance of the middle ear, how well sounds passes through the eardrum to the middle ear, ear canal volume and middle ear pressure.  Maximum compliance occurs when the pressure in the middle ear cavity is equal to the pressure in the external auditory canal.

Tympanometry graphs


The NDCS has produced a booklet explaining the different hearing tests for a child.