European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology

, Volume 271, Issue 1, pp 75–80 | Cite as

Does temperature effect tympanometric evaluation of ear canal volume? A scientific study using an Ear Canal Model

  • Ali Al-HussainiEmail author
  • David Owens
  • Alun Tomkinson


Tympanometric evaluation is a routine part of the complete otological examination. Although tympanometry when performed in standard conditions is known to accurately and precisely assess ear canal volume, the effects of variation in temperature have not been reported upon. This study examines the effect of temperature on the capability of the tympanometer to accurately evaluate external auditory canal volume in both simple and partially obstructed Ear Canal Models. An Ear Canal Model was designed using simple laboratory equipment including a 5 ml calibrated clinical syringe. This was attached to the sensing probe of a Kamplex tympanometer. Two basic trials were undertaken: (a) evaluation of the effect of temperature on the tympanometer in simple canal volume measurement and (b) assessing canal volume with partial canal occlusion. These studies were conducted at 0, 10, 20 and 30 °C in a Thermotron climatic chamber. 1,400 individual test scenarios were completed over the two arms of the study. At volumes of 1.4 cm3 or below, tympanometry had a very high level of correlation (Spearman’s ρ = 1) with the actual volume present at all tested temperatures except 0 °C. There was no significant relationship between temperature and degree of error in ear canal volume measurement in both simple and partially occluded models. The ability of the Kamplex tympanometer to accurately and precisely assess ear canal volume in this scientific model in both simple and partially occluded scenarios up to a volume of 1.4 cm3 is not effected by ambient temperature. These findings suggest the Kamplex tympanometer could be used as an effective objective tool in both laboratory and human models of the external auditory canal.


Ear canal volume Tympanometer Temperature Ear Canal Model 



We would like to express our gratitude to Dr. Anthony Giles, from the Institute of Environment and Sustainability at the School of Engineering, Cardiff University, for his help and support in providing us access to the climatic chamber facilities to undertake these studies.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.


  1. 1.
    Johansen EC, Lildholdt T, Damsbo N, Eriksen EW (2000) Tympanometry for diagnosis and treatment of otitis media in general practice. Fam Pract 17(4):317–322PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Onusko E (2004) Tympanometry. Am Fam Physician 70(9):1713–1720PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Dirks DD, Morgan DE (2000) Tympanometry and acoustic reflex testing. In: Canalis RF, Lambert PR (eds) The ear: comprehensive otology. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia, pp 223–229Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Margolis RH, Hunter LL (1999) Tympanometry: basic principles and clinical applications. In: Musiek FE, Rintelmann WF (eds) Contemporary perspectives in hearing assessment. Allyn and Bacon, Boston, pp 89–130Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Fowler CG, Shanks JE (2002) Tympanometry. In: Katz J, Burkard RF, Medwetsky L (eds) Handbook of clinical audiology, 5th edn. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia, pp 175–204Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ferekidis E, Vlachou S, Douniadakis D, Apostolopoulos N, Adamopoulos G (1999) Multiple-frequency tympanometry in children with acute otitis media. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 121(6):797–801PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Gardner MB, Hawley MS (1973) Comparison of network and real-ear characteristics of the external ear. J Audio Eng Soc 21(3):158–165Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Van Camp KJ, Creten WL (1976) Principles of acoustic impedance and admittance. In: Feldman AS, Wilber LA (eds) Acoustic impedance and admittance—the measurement of middle ear function. Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore, pp 300–335Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Zwislocki J (1957) Some measurements of the impedance at the eardrum. J Acoust Soc Am 29:349–356CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Moller AR (1972) The middle ear. In: Tobias JV (ed) Foundations of modern auditory theory, vol II. Academic Press, New York, pp 135–194Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Steinbach WJ, Sectish TC, Benjamin DK Jr, Chang KW, Messner AH (2002) Pediatric residents’ clinical diagnostic accuracy of otitis media. Pediatrics 109(6):993–998PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kaleida PH, Fireman P (2000) Diagnostic assessment of otitis media. Clin Allergy Immunol 15:247–262PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Shanks JE, Lilly DJ (1981) An evaluation of tympanometric estimates of ear canal volume. J Speech Hear Res 24(4):557–566PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Van Camp KJ, Raman ER, Creten WL (1976) Two-component versus admittance tympanometry. Audiology 15(2):120–127PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Terkildsein K, Thomsen KA (1959) The influence of pressure variations on the impedance of the human ear drum. A method for objective determination of the middle-ear pressure. J Laryngol Otol 73:409–418PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Bland JM, Altman DG (1986) Statistical methods for assessing agreement between two methods of clinical measurement. Lancet 1(8476):307–310PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Al-Hussaini A, Owens D, Tomkinson A (2011) Assessing the accuracy of tympanometric evaluation of external auditory canal volume: a scientific study using an Ear Canal Model. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol 268(12):1721–1725PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Roup CM, Wiley TL, Safady SH, Stoppenbach DT (1998) Tympanometric screening norms for adults. Am J Audiol 7:55–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Wan IK, Wong LL (2002) Tympanometric norms for Chinese young adults. Ear Hear 23(5):416–421PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Shahnaz N, Davies D (2006) Standard and multifrequency tympanometric norms for Caucasian and Chinese young adults. Ear Hear 27(1):75–90PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Cinar I, Sensogut C (2009) Evaluation of environmental factors affecting noise propagation. Environ Monit Assess 153(1–4):377–382PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Wong GS (1986) Speed of sound in standard air. J Acoust Soc Am 79(5):1359–1366CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck SurgeryUniversity Hospital of WalesCardiffUK

Personalised recommendations