What is a pneumatic otoscopy?
Pneumatic otoscopy is an ear examination that assesses eardrum movement in response to pressure changes. A healthy eardrum moves in response to pressure. Immobility may be due to:
- Fluid in the ear
- Perforation (hole)
- Tympanosclerosis (scarring of the eardrum)
- Middle ear infections
Advantages of a pneumatic otoscopy include:
- High sensitivity and specificity to identify a middle ear infection
- Better than other ear examination methods
- Cheaper than other methods
- Easy to perform with appropriate training
- Quick and painless tests
- Otoscopes are widely available
A pneumatic otoscopy provides a useful means to examine diseases in the middle ear.
- Our ear has three parts. Each part has an important function:
- The outer ear (pinna and ear canal) gathers and directs sound, causing the eardrum to vibrate.
- The middle ear (tympanic membrane, ossicles, mastoid, and eustachian tube) augments and passes the vibrations to the inner ear.
- The inner ear (cochlea) transforms the vibration into electrical signals and drives them to the brain.
For a pneumatic otoscopy, you require the following:
- Pneumatic otoscopes: These are instruments used to visualize the ear canal and eardrums. Otoscopes must be fully charged with a bright bulb.
- Ear specula: These are funnel-shaped pieces of plastic attached to an otoscope. An ear speculum is inserted into the ear canal.
- Insufflator bulbs: These are attached tightly to the head of an otoscope by means of a tube.