TympanogramsKendell Simms, Au.D,
A tympanogram is a test that we use in audiology to help us know how the ear
drum is working. The tympanogram does introduce a sound to the ear, but it is
not a hearing test in and of itself. We use it most often in children to tell us
if there is fluid behind the eardrum or if a child has gotten a tube placed in
the ear then we use it to make sure that tube is working and is not blocked with
How does a tympanogram work?
The test is very easy. We put a little earphone in the child’s ear and we
press a button and it introduces a little bit of pressure and a little sound. It
doesn’t hurt. And that makes the ear drum try to move. When the ear drum is
moving normally and there is no fluid and everything is working in the middle
ear, it draws us a type A which is a mountain peak. When there is fluid it does
kind of a flat line or a hill. When the tube is open it can draw any sort of
line, we are looking at the numbers in that case. We are looking for a nice big
volume that tells us the tube is open.
And then type c is the mountain peak but shifted over so the ear drum is
moving but there is some pressure in there that isn’t quite right.
Tympanograms are commonly used to test the condition of the middle ear and ear drum. Kendell Simms, Au.D., CCC-A, audiologist at Boys Town National Research Hospital, explains how a tympanogram works and how to understand the results.