BACKGROUND : Otitis media includes several common inflammatory conditions of the middle ear that can have severe complications if left untreated. Correctly identifying otitis media can be difficult and a screening system supported by machine learning would be valuable for this prevalent disease. This study investigated the performance of a convolutional neural network in screening for otitis media using digital otoscopic images labelled by an expert panel. METHODS : Five experienced otologists diagnosed 347 tympanic membrane images captured with a digital otoscope. Images with a majority expert diagnosis (n = 273) were categorized into three screening groups Normal, Pathological and Wax, and the same images were used for training and testing of the convolutional neural network. Expert panel diagnoses were compared to the convolutional neural network classification. Different approaches to the convolutional neural network were tested to identify the best performing model. RESULTS : Overall accuracy of the convolutional neural network was above 0.9 in all except one approach. Sensitivity to finding ears with wax or pathology was above 93% in all cases and specificity was 100%. Adding more images to train the convolutional neural network had no positive impact on the results. Modifications such as normalization of datasets and image augmentation enhanced the performance in some instances. CONCLUSIONS : A machine learning approach could be used on digital otoscopic images to accurately screen for otitis media.