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Tympanometry Preferable for Middle Ear Effusion Diagnosis

Spectral gradient acoustic reflectometry used in infants and toddlers was less effective

FRIDAY, Sept. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Spectral gradient acoustic reflectometry (SGAR) is "slightly less" discerning than tympanometry in diagnosing or ruling out middle ear effusion in children under 2, according to research presented in the September issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Jennifer Chianese, M.D., of the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, and colleagues analyzed data gathered for an earlier study on the use of influenza vaccine in preventing acute otitis media, which involved evaluating infants and toddlers with pneumatic otoscopy, tympanometry and SGAR. The present study included 786 healthy children aged 6 to 24 months old.

The manufacturer of the SGAR device used in the study considers any spectral gradient angle less than 70 degrees to be positive for middle ear effusion. Using this cutoff, SGAR would have considered 53 percent of the ears with effusion to be effusion free (a sensitivity of 47 percent), but it would have found only 10 percent of ears without effusion to have the problem (a specificity of 90 percent).

"Both SGAR and tympanometry are simple, non-invasive, inexpensive tests. Comparing the two tests on the basis of both diagnostic accuracy and the breadth of information conveyed about middle ear status, tympanometry in our judgment is clearly the preferable of the two," the authors write.

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