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Auris Nasus Larynx. 1999 Oct;26(4):479-86.

Middle ear inflation for diagnosis and treatment of otitis media with effusion.

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  • 1Department of Pediatric Otolaryngology, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, PA, USA.


An adult (18 years), healthy, male subject with persistent bilateral middle ear (ME) underpressure and a history of recurrent otitis media into his teen years was identified. The response of his MEs to air inflation was evaluated and showed an immediate pressure increase after a Valsalva maneuver followed by a rapid pressure drop to approach the pre-inflation levels. That response is consistent with the presence of ME effusion, which was not diagnosed by otoendoscopy or tympanometry, but was visualized bilaterally within the mastoid regions using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The patient was treated for 25 days with ME inflation (3/day) and then re-examined. On each treatment day, he recorded his ME pressure using tympanometry before and after one inflation maneuver. The patient's compliance with the treatment protocol was high, and successful gas transfers were documented on most days. Over the course of treatment, pre-inflation ME pressure became more normal bilaterally. When compared to the pre-treatment test, the post-treatment inflation test showed a similar rate of ME pressure decrease, but significantly higher terminal pressures. On follow-up but not during the pre-treatment period, discrete changes in ME pressure attributable to ET openings were noted during test sessions. MRI documented lesser amounts of effusion in the mastoid, but not complete disease resolution. The significance of these observations to the design of a well controlled clinical trail of ME inflation as a treatment for otitis media is discussed.

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