Rapid implementation of universal newborn hearing screening programs has exposed a need for a reliable test of middle ear function for timely identification of middle ear pathology and for differentiation between true sensorineural and conductive hearing losses. Use of higher probe tone frequencies for the assessment of immitance measures have proven to be more reliable and accurate in identifying MEE in infants. However a lack of classification-guidelines and age specific normative data exists. This study investigated the characteristics and normative values of high frequency tympanometric and acoustic reflex results for infants (n = 936 ears). Participants were 510 infants (262 male, 248 female) aged 0 – 12 months (mean age = 12.8 weeks) recruited from primary health care and immunization clinics in a South African community. A three-part procedure was performed on each test ear: 1) OAEs were recorded and pass results served as control variable for normal middle ear functioning; 2) 1000 Hz probe tone admittance, susceptance and conductance tympanograms were recorded and analysed in terms of shape, tympanometric peak pressure and maximum (peak) admittance; 3) 1000 Hz probe tone acoustic reflexes, measured with a 1000 Hz ipsilateral stimulus, were recorded and thresholds determined. Significant associations were observed between tympanogram shape, and OAE pass or fail results. 93% of ears with an OAE pass result displayed peaked tympanograms, while 79% of ears with absent OAE’s displayed flat tympanograms. Single peaked tympanograms were recorded in 782 ears (84%), double peaked tympanograms in 41 (4%) ears and flat sloping tympanograms in 112 (12%) ears. Admittance (Ya) tympanograms for the total sample displayed a mean admittance value of 2.9 mmho, with a standard deviation of 1.1 mmho. The 90th percent range was determined at 1.5 mmho (5th percentile) to 4.9 mmho (95th percentile). Mean tympanometric peak pressure in Ya tympanograms was 0.1 daPa, with a standard deviation of 61 daPa. The 90th percent range was -110 daPa to 90 daPa for the 5th and 95th percentiles respectively. Gender specific norms indicated a higher admittance for male ears. Age specific norms indicate a gradual increase in admittance indicating the need for age specific normative classification systems. Ipsilateral 1000 Hz stimuli acoustic reflex measurement proved successful with a 1000 Hz probe tone and present reflexes were recorded in 84% of ears tested. Significant association between acoustic reflex presence, OAE pass and peaked tympanogram results were observed. The normative tympanometric values derived from the cohort may serve as a guide for identification of middle ear effusion in neonates. High frequency tympanometry in combination with acoustic reflexes proves a useful measure for verifying middle ear functioning in young infants.
Dissertation (M (Communication Pathology))--University of Pretoria, 2007.