J Am Acad Audiol 2020; 31(07): 471-484
DOI: 10.3766/jaaa.19012
Research Article

Predictive Accuracy of Wideband Absorbance at Ambient and Tympanometric Peak Pressure Conditions in Identifying Children with Surgically Confirmed Otitis Media with Effusion

Venkatesh Aithal
1  Audiology Department, Townsville Hospital and Health Service, Douglas, Queensland, Australia
2  Hearing Research Unit for Children, SHRS, University of Queensland, Queensland, St Lucia, Australia
,
Sreedevi Aithal
1  Audiology Department, Townsville Hospital and Health Service, Douglas, Queensland, Australia
2  Hearing Research Unit for Children, SHRS, University of Queensland, Queensland, St Lucia, Australia
,
Joseph Kei
2  Hearing Research Unit for Children, SHRS, University of Queensland, Queensland, St Lucia, Australia
,
Shane Anderson
3  Ear, Nose and Throat Department, Townsville Hospital and Health Service, Queensland, Douglas, Australia
,
David Wright
3  Ear, Nose and Throat Department, Townsville Hospital and Health Service, Queensland, Douglas, Australia
› Author Affiliations
 

Abstract

Background Wideband absorbance (WBA) measured at ambient pressure (WBAA) does not directly account for middle ear pressure effects. On the other hand, WBA measured at tympanometric peak pressure (TPP) (WBATPP) may compensate for the middle ear pressure effects. To date, there are no studies that have compared WBAA and WBATPP in ears with surgically confirmed otitis media with effusion (OME).

Purpose The purpose of this study was to compare the predictive accuracy of WBAA and WBATPP in ears with OME.

Research Design Prospective cross-sectional study.

Study Sample A total of 60 ears from 38 healthy children (mean age = 6.5 years, SD = 1.84 years) and 60 ears from 38 children (mean age = 5.5 years, SD = 3.3 years) with confirmed OME during myringotomy were included in this study.

Data Collection and Analysis Results were analyzed using descriptive statistics and analysis of variance. The predictive accuracy of WBAA and WBATPP was determined using receiver operating characteristics (ROC) analyses.

Results Both WBAA and WBATPP were reduced in ears with OME compared with that in healthy ears. The area under the ROC (AROC) curve was 0.92 for WBAA at 1.5 kHz, whereas that for WBATPP at 1.25 kHz was 0.91. In comparison, the AROC for 226-Hz tympanometry based on the static acoustic admittance (Ytm) measure was 0.93.

Conclusions Both WBAA and WBATPP showed high and similar test performance, but neither test performed significantly better than 226-Hz tympanometry for detection of surgically confirmed OME.


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Introduction

Otitis media with effusion (OME) is defined as the presence of fluid in the middle ear without signs or symptoms of acute ear infection (Stool et al[50]; Shekelle et al[49]). OME in children can lead to reduced hearing sensitivity and deficits in speech and language development (Wallace et al[56]; Friel-Patti and Finitzo[11]; Roberts and Wallace[39]). Normal hearing is a prerequisite for normal speech and language development, but a hearing loss of >15 dB HL can be handicapping for children (Northern and Downs[34]). Presence of OME can cause a conductive hearing loss of varying degrees which can be transient or of long duration. Hearing loss caused by OME can vary from 0- to 50-dB HL averaged across the speech frequencies (Bess[7]; Fria et al[10]; Hunter et al[20]). Because a large portion of conversational speech does not exceed 50-dB SPL, even a minimal conductive loss could compromise a childs ability to understand speech.

Binaural hearing (Hall et al[15]; Yonovitz et al[59]; Aithal et al[5]), auditory processing (Keogh et al[29]; Graydon et al[12]), academic success (Aithal et al[4]), and speech and language development (Winiger et al[58]) have been shown to be compromised in children with long-lasting OME. Numerous studies have reported delays in speech and language development for children with early onset of OME compared with typically developing children (Klausen et al[30]; Winiger et al[58]). However, studies addressing the long-term effects of OME on language development have reported contradictory findings. For instance, Teele et al[52] and Shaffer et al[48] found significant positive correlations between long-standing OME in the first three years of life and articulation and language-related skills. Unsurprisingly, Paradise et al[38] found no relationship between early onset of OME and later language comprehension and production abilities.

Because early onset OME has the potential to impact on children's speech and language and education, it is important to regularly review young children with hearing loss to monitor their hearing sensitivity, speech and language development, and academic progress. Nevertheless, measuring hearing status and middle ear function can be challenging in this population as they are not always co-operative for testing.

Tympanometry using a 226-Hz probe tone is the standard test for assessment of middle ear function in children and adults. The sensitivity of tympanometry in identifying OME, when compared with myringotomy, is reported to be 80–90% and specificity from 74% to 100% (Finitzo et al[9]; Nozza et al[35] [36]; Watters et al[57]; Palmu et al[37]; Takata et al[51]; Harris et al[17]). Tympanometric width, or sharpness of the tympanogram shape, has been demonstrated to be the best single criterion for detecting OME with a sensitivity of 81% and specificity of 82% (Nozza et al[35] [36]). Nevertheless, the diagnostic use of tympanograms for identification of OME is limited, especially with tympanograms demonstrating negative middle ear pressure (e.g., <−150 daPa). Studies have found that identification of OME based on negative tympanometric peak pressure (TPP) findings do not adequately separate normal ears from ears with OME (Lildholdt[31]; Shanks and Shelton[47]; Nozza et al[36]).

In the last decade, research has shown that wideband acoustic immittance (WAI) is a sensitive test of middle ear function. Of the various measures of WAI, wideband absorbance (WBA) is gaining popularity for use in research and clinical settings. The additional WAI measures include resonance frequency, equivalent ear canal volume, TPP, admittance magnitude, and phase angle. WBA is defined as the ratio of energy absorbed by the middle ear to incident acoustic energy supplied by the probe receiver (Ellison et al[8]). Most earlier studies focused on measuring WAI at ambient pressure. WBA at ambient pressure (WBAA) is shown to be effective in identifying middle ear dysfunction and conductive disorders in infants (Sanford et al[43]; Hunter et al[19]; Aithal et al[3]; Aithal et al[2]), children (Keefe and Simmons[27]; Keefe et al[26]), and adults (Margolis et al[32]; Shahnaz and Bork[44]; Shahnaz et al[45]). In particular, studies have shown WBAA to be useful in identifying OME in infants and children (Margolis et al[33]; Jeng et al[22]; Hunter, Tubaugh, et al[21]; Beers et al[6]; Ellison et al[8]; Terzi et al[53]).

Myringotomy is considered as the gold standard to determine the presence or absence of OME. As myringotomy is an invasive procedure, which requires general anesthesia in children, it is not performed on asymptomatic children for ethical considerations. The lack of effusion may be confirmed by pneumatic otoscopy and hence could be used as a reference standard instead of myringotomy (Rosenfeld et al[40]). Ellison et al[8] investigated the use of WBAA with 44 children with OME confirmed by myringotomy and 44 children without a history of middle ear disorders based on surgery and normal pneumatic otoscopic findings. They found that WBAA was reduced in ears with OME compared with ears from the control group. The test performance of WBAA in identifying OME was high with area under the receiver operating characteristic (AROC) curve of 0.93. Terzi et al[53] assessed 34 typically developing children, 44 children diagnosed with OME during myringotomy, and 28 children with OME but no signs of effusion during myringotomy. Terzi et al[53] reported that WBAA was significantly lower in the OME group. In evaluating the test performance of the WBAA test, they found that WBA in the frequency region 0.375–2 kHz had the highest AROC of 0.984, followed by that at 1 and 1.5 kHz of 0.973 and 0.967, respectively. In another study, Beers et al[6] compared WBAA in 78 children who passed a battery of tests with that of 25 children with OME confirmed by video otomicroscopy and pneumatic otoscopy. They reported that WBAA >0.8 kHz had high test performance in distinguishing normal middle ear status from OME. They found that WBAA at 1.25 kHz had the highest AROC of 0.97.

Surprisingly, there is limited research regarding comparison of test performance of WBA with conventional 226-Hz tympanometry. Studies have suggested that WBAA is significantly better than 226-Hz tympanometry in distinguishing ears with OME from normal middle ears (Beers et al[6]; Terzi et al[53]) and predicting conductive hearing loss in young children due to OME (Keefe et al[26]). Keefe et al[26] noted that both WBAA and tympanometric WBA showed better test performance compared with 226-Hz tympanometry in children.

The aforementioned studies have measured WBAA. WBA can also be measured under tympanometric pressurized conditions, known as wideband tympanometry (WBT). WBT provides additional information of middle ear function compared with WBAA measurements, by measuring absorbance at TPP (WBATPP). Earlier studies have suggested that WBATPP may be more sensitive to middle ear disorders in children and adults (Margolis et al[32]; Keefe and Simmons[27]; Sanford and Feeney[42]). More recently, Keefe et al[23] evaluated normal and surgically confirmed otosclerotic ears and using a multivariate predictor with three reflectance variables and reported that tympanometric reflectance was more accurate than ambient reflectance (AROC 0.95 versus AROC 0.88) in classifying ears as normal or otosclerotic ears. However, other studies have shown similar test performance for WBAA and WBATPP for identifying middle ear dysfunction and conductive hearing loss (Sanford et al[43]; Keefe et al[26]).

Margolis et al[32] suggested that it may be potentially advantageous to assess middle ear function using both WBAA and WBATPP procedure. The researchers reported a single case study of a ten-year-old child with a conductive loss of 35-dB HL and TPP of —250 daPa. They found the absorbance to be abnormal even when the ear canal was pressurized to match the TPP and suggested that pathologic middle ear changes might have occurred in addition to the presence of negative pressure in the middle ear (Margolis et al[32]).

By measuring absorbance at TPP, WBT provides additional information of middle ear function compared with WBAA measurements. More importantly, WBT produces an optimal WBATPP response by compensating for the effect of the difference in pressure between the ear canal and the middle ear. WBT generates a three-dimensional plot of absorbance as function of both ear canal pressure and frequency. From this plot, WBA at any applied pressure, including TPP, can be derived. WBAA evaluates middle ear function without adjusting for middle ear pressure effects. But WBATPP evaluates middle ear function after compensating for the difference in pressure between the outer ear and the middle ear. Hence, measuring WBA at TPP will reduce the middle ear pressure effects and measure changes in absorbance due to the middle ear pathology per se.

Although many researchers have studied WBAA in ears with OME based on otoscopy and audiological findings, surgical confirmation of OME is important and significant as otoscopic measures are often subjective and less reliable. To date, there are only two studies that have investigated WBAA in ears with surgically confirmed OME (Ellison et al[8]; Terzi et al[53]). However, neither of these studies have studied WBATPP. The purpose of the present study was to compare the predictive accuracy of WBAA and WBATPP in ears with OME confirmed by myringotomy.


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Materials and Methods

Participants

The study was approved by Townsville Hospital and Health Service Ethics Board. Written consent was obtained from parents or carers. The participants were divided into two groups.


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Control Group

The control group consisted of 60 healthy ears (35 right and 25 left) from 38 children (25 males and 13 females) who presented to the audiology clinic with no history of ear or hearing difficulties. Mean age at the time of testing was 6.5 years (standard deviation [SD] = 1.84, range 4.11–11.4 years). Inclusion criteria for the control group were as follows: (a) no significant history of middle ear infection at the time of testing, (b) normal otoscopic findings, (c) normal tympanogram with peak Ytm between 0.3 and 1.4 mmhos and TPP between −100 and 100 daPa, (d) air conduction (AC) thresholds <20-dB HL between 0.25 and 8 kHz, (e) air-bone gap of <l5 dB at frequencies between 0.25 and 4 kHz, and (f) a pass in transient evoked otoacoustic emissions (TEOAEs) as determined by signal to noise ratio of ≥3 dB at 2, 3, and 4 kHz (Kei et al[28]).


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OME Group

Children with OME as determined by an ear nose and throat (ENT) specialist and who were scheduled for myringotomy with or without grommet insertion were enrolled in the OME group. Initial diagnosis of OME was made based on otomicroscopy by the ENT specialist. Subject data were only included in the OME group if the ENT specialist confirmed the presence of effusion during myringotomy. This group consisted of 60 ears (30 right and 30 left) from 38 children (25 males and 13 females). The ENT specialist subjectively rated middle ear fluid as thick or thin during surgery. Thick fluid was noted in 37 ears and thin fluid in 23 ears. Mean age at the time of diagnosis was 5.5 years (SD = 3.3 years, range 1.1–14.3 years). There was no significant difference between the mean age of two groups [t(74) = −1.64, p = 0.11].


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Test Procedure

All testing was performed by a clinical audiologist in a sound-treated room with ambient noise <35-dB A. Testing was scheduled at least one hour before the surgery. Although both ears were tested, only the ear with surgically confirmed OME was included in the study. Tympanometry, TEOAEs, pure-tone audiometry, WBAA, and WBATPP were performed in no particular order.


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Tympanometry

Tympanometry was performed using a GSI Tymp Star 2 middle ear analyzer (Grason-Stadler; Eden Prairie, MN). Tympanograms were obtained by presenting a 226-Hz probe tone at 85-dB SPL to the ear while the ear canal pressure was varied from +200 to −400 daPa. Quantitative tympanometric measures of peak compensated static acoustic admittance measured between the peak and 200 daPa (Ytm in mmho) and TPP in daPa were used to classify tympanograms as normal, flat, or negative middle ear pressure. Tympanograms with static admittance between 0.3 and 1.4 mmho and middle ear pressure of between −100 and 100 daPa were classified as normal. Tympanograms with static admittance <0.3 mmho with no identifiable peak were classified as flat tympanograms, and tympanograms with middle ear pressure <−100 daPa as negative middle ear pressure (Nozza et al[35] [36]; Valente et al[54]).


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TEOAEs Test

A Biologic Scout Version.3.45 (Natus; San Carlos, CA) was used to measure TEOAEs. The signal consisted of wideband clicks of 80-p.s duration, at a target amplitude of 80-dB peak-equivalent sound pressure level. The pass criteria included reproducibility of ≥70% and a difference between the amplitude of the emission and the associated noise floor of ≥3 dB at 2,3, and 4 kHz (Kei et al[28]; Vander Werff et al[55]).


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Audiometry

AC and bone conduction (BC) audiometry were performed using an Interacoustic AC 40 audiometer (Interacoustics; Assens, Denmark). Thresholds were determined using the Hughson-Westlake Method. Conditioned play audiometry was used for children aged between 2.5 and 5 years. AC thresholds were measured at 0.25, 0.5, 1, 2, 4, and 8 kHz and BC thresholds were measured at 0.25, 0.5,1, 2, and 4 kHz. Air-bone gap data were obtained at all BC test frequencies.

Visual reinforcement audiometry was performed for children younger than 2.5 years using an Interacoustic AC 40 audiometer with a free field setup. Visual reinforcement audiometry thresholds were determined for warble tones at 0.5, 1, 2, and 4 kHz presented through a loudspeaker kept at 1-m distance at an angle of 45° from the child's ears.


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Wideband Absorbance Measurements and Analysis

Both WBAA and WBATPP were measured using a prototype system developed by Interacoutics (Keefe et al[25]; Sanford et al[43]; Aithal et al[3]). The Reflwin computerized system consisted of a Windowsbased computer, a 24-bit resolution sound card, a pressure pump and controller system containing an acoustic immittance instrument (AT235), and custom software (version 3.2.1) (Interacoustics, Assens, Denmark) for stimulus generation and data acquisition. Calibration was performed every day before data collection (Keefe and Simmons[27]; Sanford and Feeney[42]). Calibration was performed at ambient pressure to determine the source reflectance and incident sound pressure associated with the probe and its transducers based on acoustic measurements in four rigid-walled cylindrical calibration tubes that were open at one end and closed at the other with a steel rod. The infant calibration tubes had lengths of 232.11 and 53.19 mm, each with a diameter of 4.8 mm (small-tube) and the adult calibration tubes had lengths of 290.50 and 81 mm, each with a diameter of 7.9 mm (large-tube). A root mean squared reflectance error of <0.009 was required for successful calibration and any calibration that did not meet the criteria was repeated after the probe reinsertion. Reflectance is the ratio of reflected energy at the probe termination in the ear canal to incident acoustic energy supplied by the probe receiver (Ellison et al[8]). Absorbance is defined as 1–reflectance. Responses in the age group equal to or older than 0.5 years were analyzed with respect to large-tube calibration and newborns through 0.4 years were analyzed with respect to small-tube calibration. However, in the present study, only adult calibration values were used as the youngest child tested was only 1.1 year old.

Measurements were obtained by recording acoustic response to clicks presented at 55 dB SPL at a rate of one click per 46 msec. Responses from a total of 32 clicks were averaged for each measurement and reflectance was calculated for each response. The response consisted of 16 data points at 1/3 octave frequencies from 226 to 8000 Hz. WBAA was always measured before WBATPP. WBT testing was performed using Reflwin software in combination with the modified acoustic immittance instrument (AT 235). A slow pump speed of 75 daPa/sec was used and the pressure was swept from +200 to −300 daPa, respectively. Visual inspection of the absorbance curve was performed to determine adequate probe fit. Absorbance more than 0.29 in the low frequency band (0.25–0.5 kHz) was indicative of a probe leak (Groon et al[14]). When probe leakage was suspected, the probe was reinserted, and the test was repeated.

Data were exported to an Excel spreadsheet using a MATLAB software (R2014b) (The MathWorks Inc, Natick, MA). The data were then transferred into the IBM SPSS (version 23) (IBM Corporation, Armonk, NY) for further analysis. Mean WBAA and WBATPP were determined for 16 one-third octave frequencies from 0.25 to 8 kHz and were also obtained for frequencies between 0.3 and 2 kHz, 1 and 2 kHz, and 2 and 8 kHz. WBAA was measured at ambient pressure in the ear canal whereas WBATPP was measured at TPP. TPP was measured by calculating the pressure at which the maximum of low-frequency averaged absorbance (0.376–2 kHz) occurred. It was automatically calculated by the program. For tympanograms with no peaks, the program identified the maximum-averaged absorbance point and measured the TPP. In this case, the TPP does not necessarily indicate the difference in pressure between the ear canal and middle ear cavity.

Statistical analysis was performed using the IBM SPSS software version 23. A mixed model analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to analyze data for ears with and without OME. The Greenhouse and Geisser[13] (G-G) approach was used to compensate for the violation of compound symmetry and sphericity. Data were analyzed using ear status (control versus OME) as between group factor and frequencies as within group factor. Post hoc analyses were performed using multiple pair wise comparison tests with Bonferroni adjustments to determine the frequencies at which significant differences existed between control and OME groups. Ap value of <0.05 was considered statistically significant for all analyses.


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Measures of Test Performance

The test performance of WBAA and WBATPP to detect OME was determined using ROC analyses. AROC was determined for each of the 16 one-third octave frequencies as well as 0.3–2, 1–2, and 2–8-kHz frequency bands for WBAA and WBATPP using SPSS software (version 23).


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Results

There was no significant difference in age between the two groups of participants [t (74) = —1.64. p= 0.11] ([Table 1]). An ANOVA was fitted to the WBAA and WBATPP data from the control and OME groups to test the significance of difference between right and left ears, and male and females, and their interactions. To analyze the ears and gender, only one ear was selected for the study and in case of children passing both ears, only one ear was selected at random. This was performed to avoid the potential influence of pooling the data across ear for analysis. This resulted 38 ears (24 right and 14 left) for WBAA and 21 ears (12 right and 9 left) for WBATPP in control group. Similarly, 38 ears (22 right and 16 left) were selected for WBAA and 32 ears (19 right and 13 left) for WBATPP in the OME group. Less ears were selected for WBATPP condition as data were not available for all children for the TPP conditions.

Table 1

Participant Details

Control Group

OME Group

No. children

38

38

 Male

25

25

 Female

13

13

Total no. of ears

60

60

 Right ear

35

30

 Left ear

25

30

Age (years)

 Mean

6.5

5.5

 SD

1.84

3.3

 Range

4.11–11.4

1.1–14.3

For the control group, results of an ANOVA fitted to the data obtained from WBAA showed no significant difference between ears, F (1, 34) = 1.01, p > 0.05; gender, F (1, 34) = 0.06, p > 0.05 and ear X gender interaction, F (1, 34) = 0.06, p > 0.05. Likewise, no significant difference between ears, F (1, 17) = 2.47, p > 0.05; gender, F (1, 17) = 0.04, p > 0.05; and ear X gender interaction, F (1, 17) = 0.01, p > 0.05 were observed for the WBATPP measure.

For the OME group, results of an ANOVA fitted to the data obtained from WBAA showed no significant difference between ears, F (1, 34) = 1.24, p > 0.05; gender, F (1, 34) = 0.17, p > 0.05; and ear X gender interaction, F (1, 34) = 1.15, p > 0.05. Likewise, no significant difference between ear, F (1, 28) = 0.73, p > 0.05; gender, F (1, 28) = 1.06, p > 0.05; and ear X gender interaction, F (1, 28) = 0.05, p > 0.05 were observed for the WBATPP measure. Subsequently, ears were pooled for both groups for further analysis.

The tympanometric data were analyzed based on quantitative analyses. All the 60 ears from 38 children in the control group had normal tympanogram with Ytm between 0.3 and 1.4 mmhos (mean = 0.57 mmho, SD = 0.23 mmho, range = 0.3–1.1 mmho) and TPP of within 6100 daPa (mean = —10 daPa, SD = 35.58 daPa, range = —100 to 30). In the OME group, a total of 52 ears had flat tympanograms and six ears had negative middle ear pressure with a mean TPP of —200 daPa (SD = 95 daPa, range = —105 to —335 daPa) and normal Ytm. Two ears had normal tympanograms with a mean TPP of —17 daPa (range = — 45 to 10 daPa) and normal Ytm.

Complete TEOAE data sets were available for the control group but not for the OME group. All 60 ears of children in the control group passed the TEOAE test. In the OME group, four ears passed and 36 ears failed the TEOAE test. TEOAE data were not available for 20 ears mainly because of lack of cooperation from the child and insufficient time as tests were performed one hour before the surgery.

Initially, 93 ears from 58 children were suspected to have OME based on otoscopic and audiometric findings. Of these, 33 ears from 20 children were found not to have fluid during surgery. Effusion was noted in 60 ears from 38 children during surgery and only results from ears with confirmed OME were used for further analysis and to test the predictive accuracy of WBA.

[Figure 1] shows the mean AC and BC thresholds of ears in the control and OME group. AC and BC thresholds were available for all 60 ears of 38 children in the control group and 30 ears of 19 children in the OME group. The OME group demonstrated a mild conductive hearing loss throughout the frequency range with better AC thresholds, but worse BC thresholds at 2 kHz than that at other frequencies.

Zoom Image
Fig. 1 Mean AC and BC thresholds of participants in (A) control and (B) OME group. Error bar denotes ±1 SD.

[Figure 2(A)] illustrates mean WBAA and shaded area (interquartile range [IQR], range between 25th and 75th percentiles) from 0.25 to 8 kHz for the control and OME groups. Errors bar shows mean ±1 standard error of mean (SEM). Mean WBAA for both groups showed a single-peaked pattern at 3 kHz. Mean WBAA of the control group increased gradually from 0.09 at 0.25 kHz to reach a maximum of 0.86 at 3 kHz, and then decreased rapidly with frequency to 0.14 at 8 kHz. In comparison, mean WBAA of the OME group varied between 0.08 and 0.28 from 0.25 to 1.5 kHz, increased gradually until it reached a maximum of 0.42 at 3 kHz, and then decreased rapidly with frequency to 0.17 at 8 kHz. Mean WBAA of the OME group was below the 25th percentile of mean WBAA of the control group at all frequencies between 0.4 and 6 kHz. In comparison, mean WBAA of the control group was above the 75th percentile of the OME group at all frequencies.

Zoom Image
Fig. 2 (A) Mean WBAA and IQR from 0.25 to 8 kHz for the control and OME group. (B) Mean WBATPP and IQR from 0.25 to 8 kHz for the control and OME group. Vertical bars denote mean ±1 SEM. Shaded areas denote IQR (control group—light gray shading; OME group—dark gray shading).

An ANOVA was performed with WBAA as the dependent variable and ear condition (control versus OME group) and frequency as independent variables. The results showed a significant main effect for ear condition [F (1, 118) = 293.01, p < 0.001, partial eta square = 0.71, observed power = 1]. The main effect of frequency [F (4, 468) = 280.68, p < 0.001, partial eta square = 0.70, observed power = 1] and interaction between ear condition and frequency [F (4, 468) = 45.15, p < 0.001, partial eta square = 0.28, observed power = 1] were also significant.

A series of t-tests applied to the WBAA data showed that mean WBAA of the OME group was significantly lower than that of the control group at frequencies between 0.25 and 6 kHz and frequency bands of 0.3–2, 1–2, and 2–8 kHz ([Table 2]).

Table 2

Mean, SEM, Significance of Difference and Magnitude of Effect in WBAA between the Control and Otitis Media with Effusion (OME) Group

Frequency (kHz)

Control Group, n = 60 Ears

Mean ± SEM

OME Group, n = 60 Ears

Mean ± SEM

t-Value

Eta Square

Observed Power

0.25

0.08 ± 0.01

0.06 ± 0.01

2.16[*]

0.04

0.57

0.3

0.09 ± 0.01

0.07 ± 0.01

2.28[*]

0.04

0.62

0.4

0.15 ± 0.01

0.10 ± 0.01

3.77[*]

0.11

0.96

0.5

0.21 ± 0.01

0.14 ± 0.01

5.02[*]

0.18

0.99

0.6

0.32 ± 0.01

0.18 ± 0.01

8.13[*]

0.36

1.00

0.8

0.33 ± 0.02

0.12 ± 0.02

8.81[*]

0.40

1.00

1

0.37 ± 0.02

0.11 ± 0.02

8.91[*]

0.40

1.00

1.25

0.53 ± 0.02

0.17 ± 0.02

11.87[*]

0.54

1.00

1.5

0.61 ± 0.02

0.15 ± 0.02

15.24[*]

0.66

1.00

2

0.70 ± 0.02

0.25 ± 0.02

16.07[*]

0.69

1.00

2.5

0.81 ± 0.02

0.42 ± 0.02

11.04[*]

0.51

1.00

3

0.85 ± 0.02

0.51 ± 0.02

8.52[*]

0.38

1.00

4

0.75 ± 0.03

0.46 ± 0.03

7.77[*]

0.34

1.00

5

0.53 ± 0.03

0.32 ± 0.03

6.04[*]

0.24

1.00

6

0.21 ± 0.02

0.12 ± 0.02

3.96[*]

0.12

0.98

8

0.12 ± 0.01

0.09 ± 0.01

1.89

0.03

0.47

0.3–2

0.37 ± 0.01

0.14 ± 0.01

13.56[*]

0.61

1.00

1–2

0.55 ± 0.02

0.17 ± 0.02

15.28[*]

0.66

1.00

2–8

0.57 ± 0.01

0.31 ± 0.01

13.81[*]

0.62

1.00

* Significant difference with p < 0.05.


The results of an ANOVA with WBATPP as the dependent variable showed a significant main effect for ear condition [F (1, 55) = 77.43, p < 0.001, partial eta square = 0.59, observed power = 1]. The main effect of frequency [F (4, 259) = 8.48, p < 0.001, partial eta square = 0.59, observed power = 1] and interaction between ear conditions and frequency [F(4; 259) = 20.95, p < 0.001, partial eta square = 0.28, observed power = 1] were also significant.

[Figure 2(B)] illustrates the mean WBATPP and IQR from 0.25 to 8 kHz for the control and OME groups. Mean WBATPP for the control group showed two large peaks with the first peak occurring at 1.25–1.5 kHz and the second peak at 3 kHz. Mean WBATPP was reduced <1.25 and >3 kHz. In comparison, mean WBATPP of the OME group showed a large peak occurring at 2.5 kHz. Mean WBATPP of OME group was lower than that of the 25th percentile of the control group at all frequencies between 0.4 and 6 kHz. On the other hand, mean WBATPP of the control group was above the 75th percentile of the OME group at all frequencies except 8 kHz.

Mean WBATPP of the OME group was significantly lower than that of the control group at frequencies between 0.6 and 6 kHz and frequency bands of 0.3–2, 1–2, and 2–8 kHz as indicated by the t-test results (see [Table 3]).

Table 3

Mean, SEM, Significance of Difference and Magnitude of Effect inWBATPP between the Control and OME Group

Frequency (kHz)

Control Group, n = 60 Ears

Mean ± SEM

OME Group, n = 60 Ears

Mean ± SEM

t-Value

Eta Square

Observed Power

0.25

0.09 ± 0.01

0.08 ± 0.02

21.98

0.07

0.49

0.3

0.15 ± 0.01

0.12 ± 0.02

1.57

0.05

0.34

0.4

0.24 ± 0.01

0.19 ± 0.02

1.61

0.05

0.35

0.5

0.29 ± 0.01

0.23 ± 0.02

1.53

0.04

0.32

0.6

0.42 ± 0.01

0.28 ± 0.02

3.22[*]

0.17

0.89

0.8

0.49 ± 0.02

0.18 ± 0.02

5.05[*]

0.33

1.00

1

0.60 ± 0.02

0.18 ± 0.02

7.56[*]

0.53

1.00

1.25

0.72 ± 0.03

0.25 ± 0.03

9.28[*]

0.63

1.00

1.5

0.74 ± 0.02

0.28 ± 0.03

7.88[*]

0.55

1.00

2

0.68 ± 0.02

0.31 ± 0.03

6.85[*]

0.48

1.00

2.5

0.78 ± 0.02

0.45 ± 0.04

6.52[*]

0.45

1.00

3

0.86 ± 0.02

0.42 ± 0.03

6.88[*]

0.48

1.00

4

0.78 ± 0.03

0.37 ± 0.03

5.62[*]

0.38

1.00

5

0.56 ± 0.03

0.26 ± 0.03

4.97[*]

0.33

1.00

6

0.35 ± 0.02

0.14 ± 0.02

4.02[*]

0.24

0.98

8

0.14 ± 0.03

0.17 ± 0.02

0.28

0.00

0.06

0.3–2

0.62 ± 0.02

0.29 ± 0.02

6.80[*]

0.48

1.00

1–2

0.68 ± 0.02

0.23 ± 0.03

8.91[*]

0.61

1.00

2–8

0.60 ± 0.02

0.30 ± 0.02

8.12[*]

0.56

1.00

* Significant difference with p < 0.05.


[Figure 3] shows the comparison of mean absorbance at WBAA and WBATPP for the control and OME groups. Error bar shows mean ±1 SEM. An ANOVA was applied to assess the difference in absorbance across the two WBA measures for each group. The results showed a significant difference between the two measures, with WBATPP showing significantly higher absorbance between 0.3 and 1.5 kHz, and 6 kHz for the control group and between 0.25 and 1.5 kHz, and 6 kHz for the OME group.

Zoom Image
Fig. 3 Comparison of mean WBAA and WBATPP conditions for (A) control and (B) OME group. Error bar denotes ±1 SEM. Significant difference with p < 0.05 noted at 0.3–1.5 and 6 kHz for control group and 0.25–1.5 and 6 kHz for OME group.

[Table 4] summarizes the AROC, 95% confidence intervals (CIs), cutoff value, sensitivity, and specificity of WBAA and WBATPP for each of the one-third octave frequency between 0.25 and 8 kHz and frequency bands of 0.3–2, 1–2, and 2–8 kHz. The diagnostic accuracy of WBAA was higher than 0.7 in the frequency between 0.6 and 4 kHz and frequency bands of 0.3–2, 1–2, and 2–8 kHz. The AROC was highest at 1.5 kHz (0.92) followed by 1.25 kHz (0.90). The sensitivity of WBAA reached the highest values of 0.92 and 0.88 at 1.5 and 1.25 kHz, respectively. In comparison, the specificity of WBAA remained high across the entire frequency range.

Table 4

The Area Under the Receiver Operating Curve (AROC) and Corresponding CIs, Sensitivity, and Specificity for WBAA and WBATPP

Frequency (kHz)

WBAA

WBATPP

AROC

95% CI

Cutoff WBAA

Sensitivity

Specificity

AROC

95% CI

Cutoff WBATPP

Sensitivity

Specificity

0.25

0.45

0.35–0.55

0.01

0.00

0.90

0.58

0.45–0.70

0.05

0.21

0.94

0.30

0.49

0.39–0.60

0.02

0.07

0.92

0.79[*]

0.69–0.89

0.10

0.64

0.94

0.40

0.56

0.46–0.66

0.06

0.18

0.93

0.79[*]

0.70–0.89

0.17

0.66

0.94

0.50

0.64

0.54–0.74

0.10

0.35

0.93

0.74[*]

0.64–0.85

0.20

0.55

0.94

0.60

0.71[*]

0.61–0.80

0.19

0.50

0.92

0.86[*]

0.78–0.94

0.32

0.79

0.94

0.80

0.79[*]

0.71–0.88

0.15

0.67

0.92

0.90[*]

0.82–0.97

0.33

0.82

0.97

1.00

0.80[*]

0.72–0.88

0.11

0.68

0.92

0.90[*]

0.82–0.97

0.36

0.86

0.94

1.25

0.90[*]

0.84–0.96

0.28

0.88

0.92

0.91[*]

0.83–0.98

0.54

0.88

0.94

1.50

0.92[*]

0.86–0.97

0.39

0.92

0.92

0.82[*]

0.73–0.91

0.53

0.73

0.90

2.00

0.87[*]

0.80–0.94

0.57

0.73

1.00

0.84[*]

0.76–0.92

0.50

0.75

0.94

2.50

0.85[*]

0.78–0.92

0.63

0.78

0.92

0.81[*]

0.71–0.90

0.60

0.71

0.90

3.00

0.79[*]

0.71–0.88

0.68

0.72

0.88

0.78[*]

0.68–0.88

0.61

0.66

0.90

4.00

0.72[*]

0.62–0.81

0.49

0.53

0.90

0.78[*]

0.68–0.88

0.55

0.66

0.90

5.00

0.55

0.45–0.65

0.23

0.18

0.92

0.75[*]

0.65–0.86

0.27

0.57

0.94

6.00

0.58

0.48–0.69

0.05

0.25

0.92

0.66[*]

0.55–0.78

0.15

0.39

0.94

8.00

0.52

0.41–0.62

0.00

0.03

1.00

0.62

0.50–0.74

0.02

0.34

0.90

0.3–2

0.91[*]

0.85–0.97

0.24

0.95

0.87

0.86[*]

0.77–0.94

0.48

0.82

0.92

1–2

0.92[*]

0.86–0.97

0.38

0.92

0.92

0.88[*]

0.81–0.96

0.51

0.86

0.90

2–8

0.90[*]

0.84–0.96

0.44

0.90

0.90

0.88[*]

0.81–0.96

0.44

0.83

0.93

* Significant difference with p < 0.05.


The diagnostic accuracy of WBATPP was higher than 0.7 in the frequency between 0.3 and 5 kHz and frequency bands of 0.3–2, 1–2, and 2–8 kHz. The AROC was highest at 1.25 kHz (0.91), followed by 1 and 0.8 kHz (0.90). The sensitivity of WBATPP reached the highest values of 0.88 and 0.86 at 1.25 and 1 kHz, respectively, whereas the specificity of WBATPP remained high across the entire frequency range. Statistical significance of the difference in AROC between WBAA and WBATPP was determined as suggested by Hanley and McNeil.[16] AROC for WBATPP was significantly higher than WBAA at 0.3, 0.4, 0.6, and 5 kHz.

[Table 5] shows a summary of AROC and corresponding SEM and 95% CI for WBAA at 1.5-kHz and WBATPP at 1.2-kHz and 226-Hz Ytm tympanogram. These frequencies were selected because of the optimal performance of WBA at these frequencies. Comparison of AROC among these measures revealed no significant differences among the WBAA, WBATPP, and 226-Hz tympanometry.

Table 5

Summary of AROC, SEM, and 95% CI for WBAA, WBATPP, and 226-Hz Tympanogram (Ytm)

AROC

SEM

95% CI

WBAA (1.5 kHz)

0.92

0.03

0.86–0.97

WBATPP (1.2 kHz)

0.91

0.04

0.83–0.98

Ytm (226 Hz)

0.93

0.03

0.88–0.99

[Figure 4] shows a comparison of the mean WBAA and WBATPP for the control group with that of the three tympanogram types of the OME group. Mean WBAA of the control group showed a single peak at 3 kHz, whereas mean WBATPP showed two prominent peaks at 1.5 and 3.5 kHz. For ears with OME with normal tympanogram, both mean WBAA and WBATPP showed a single peak. For ears with OME with flat tympanograms, both mean WBAA and WBATPP showed the lowest absorbance. For ears with OME with negative middle ear pressure, both WBAA and WBATPP showed absorbance in between OME with normal and flat tympanograms.

Zoom Image
Fig. 4 Comparison of (A) WBAA and (B) WBATPP for control group and OME group with different types of tympanograms.

[Figure 5] shows a comparison of mean WBAA for both the control and OME group of the present study with that obtained by Keefe et al[26] and Terzi et al.[53] The results of the present study resembled closely with those of the study by Keefe et al.[26] Terzi et al[53] showed improved absorbance for their control group ∼1–2 kHz and OME group ∼1.5–3 kHz.

Zoom Image
Fig. 5 Comparison of mean WBAA with control and OME group of the present study with WBAA of the studies by Keefe et al[26] and Terzi et al.[53]

Subjective rating of the OME fluid as thick or thin by operating ENT surgeon was analyzed in this study. [Figure 6] compares WBAA and WBATPP for the OME group with thick and thin fluid with that of the control group. Mean WBAA obtained for both thick and thin fluid conditions were similar. However, mean WBATPP obtained for the thin fluid was higher than that for thick fluid across 0.25–8 kHz.

Zoom Image
Fig. 6 Comparison of (A) WBAA and (B) WBATPP for control and OME group with thick and thin effusion as determined by ENT surgeon during surgery.

#

Discussion

The results of the study showed no significant ear, gender, or gender by ear interaction effects on WBAA and WBATPP. These findings are consistent with the previous studies (Hunter, Bagger-Sjoback, et al[18]; Beers et al[6]), which reported no significant differences in WBAA across ears and genders. On the other hand, the effect of gender on WBAA is inconclusive. For example, Shahnaz et al[46] reported that WBAA varies differently between females and males across frequencies. The males had lower absorbance at 4 and 5 kHz than females. Although the source of these ear and gender differences is not known, it may be partly due to the methodological differences, including age range of participants, equipment, calibration, and selection criteria used in the respective studies.

In the present study, results showed a significant group effect for ear conditions (control versus OME group) for both WBAA and WBATPP This study also noted a significant main effect for frequency and frequency by ear conditions for both WBAA and WBATPP tests, suggesting that the absorbance pattern across frequency was different for each group. Mean WBAA of the control group increased gradually from 0.25 kHz to reach a maximum at 3 kHz. In comparison, mean WBAA of the OME group was relatively stable with only 10% variation and increasing gradually to reach a maximum at 3 kHz. Mean WBAA of the OME group was lower than the 25th percentile of WBAA of control group at all frequencies between 0.4 and 6 kHz. In comparison, mean WBAA of the control group was above the 75th percentile of the OME group at all frequencies ([Figure 2A]).

Mean WBATPP for the control group showed two large peaks with the first peak occurring at 1.25–1.5 kHz and the second peak at 3 kHz. In comparison, mean WBATPP of the OME group showed a large peak at 2.5 kHz. Mean WBATPP of the OME group was lower than that of the 25th percentile of the control group at all frequencies between 0.4 and 6 kHz. On the other hand, mean WBATPP of the control group was above the 75th percentile of the OME group at all frequencies except 8 kHz ([Figure 2B]).

In the control group, both mean WBAA and WBATPP were the highest between 1 and 4 kHz and reduced <1 kHz and >4 kHz ([Figure 3A]). These findings were consistent with the results of several studies that have reported absorbance to vary across frequencies in children (Beers et al[6]; Ellison et al[8]). The frequency region between 1 and 4 kHz is the most sensitive frequency region for middle ear assessments as energy is transmitted most efficiently through the middle ear. Hence, any change in middle ear transmission due to middle ear dysfunction can easily be detected in this region. Studies by Keefe et al,[26] Ellison et al[8] and Sanford and Brockett[41] demonstrated that absorbance at frequencies between 1 and 4 kHz provided good discriminability of middle ear function in children.

The main aim of the present study was to compare the predictive accuracy of WBAA and WBATPP to detect OME in children. The present study showed that both WBAA and WBATPP identified OME with high accuracy. The frequency region between 1 and 2.5 kHz had the highest accuracy (AROC ≥0.80) for WBAA, whereas the frequency region between 0.6 and 2.5 kHz had the highest accuracy for WBATPP. Optimal test performance for WBAA was achieved at 1.5 kHz with an AROC of 0.92 and sensitivity and specificity of 0.92. In comparison, optimal test performance for WBATPP was obtained at 1.25 kHz with an AROC of 0.91, sensitivity of 0.88, and specificity of 0.94. Overall, WBATPP showed predictive accuracy across a wider frequency region (0.3–6 kHz) with better sensitivity than WBAA (0.6–4 kHz). The AROC for WBATPP was significantly greater than that for WBAA at 0.3, 0.4, and 0.6 kHz. These results suggest that WBATPP can provide additional and diagnostically useful information across a wider frequency region than WBAA.

In comparison, several studies have investigated the predictive accuracy of WBAA in identifying OME in children (Ellison et al[8]; Keefe et al[26]; Terzi et al[53]). Terzi et al[53] compared WBAA in healthy children and children diagnosed with OME during myringotomy. They reported that WBAA had high diagnostic values at 1 and 1.5 kHz with an AROC of 0.973 and 0.967, respectively. Ellison et al[8] reported an AROC of 0.93 for a univariate measure of WBAA determined across frequencies 0.25–8 kHz. Beers et al[6] compared WBAA in children with normal middle ear status and children with OME confirmed through pneumatic otoscopy and video otomicroscopy. They reported high diagnostic accuracy with AROC between 0.95 and 0.97 at 1–4 kHz. The highest accuracy of 0.97 was observed at 1.2 and 1.6 kHz. However, the present study showed an AROC of 0.90 at 1.25 kHz and 0.92 at 1.5 kHz for WBAA, 0.90 at 0.8 kHz and 1 kHz, and 0.91 at 1.25 kHz for WBATPP. Although the present study demonstrated that both WBAA and WBATPP could predict OME in children with high accuracy, they were slightly lower when compared with that of the above studies. The discrepancies could be due to the use of different subject samples and methods.

The present study also evaluated the diagnostic accuracy of 226-Hz tympanometry against surgical findings as the gold standard. The results showed high predictive accuracy with an AROC of 0.93 (95% CI: 0.88–0.99). These results are comparable with the optimal test performance of WBAA at 1.5 kHz (AROC 0.92; 95% CI: 0.86–0.97) and WBATPP at 1.25 kHz (AROC 0.91; 95% CI: 0.83–0.98). However, these results are not consistent with those obtained by Beers et al[6] who noted that the AROC of WBAA at 1.25 kHz (AROC 0.97; 95% CI: 0.94–0.99) was greater than that of 226-Hz tympanometry using Ytm (AROC 0.81; 95% CI: 0.75–0.87). Similarly, Keefe et al[26] reported that both WBAA and tympanometric WBA tests were better predictors of conductive hearing loss (AROC values ≥0.97) than 226-Hz tympanometry using tympanometric width as the dependent variable (AROC ranging from 0.68 to 0.93). Furthermore, they found no significant difference in AROC between WBAA and tympanometric WBA. Terzi et al[53] also reported WBAA to be more accurate than 226-Hz tympanometry using qualitative measures of classifying tympanograms.

The main reason for the difference between the present study and the aforementioned studies could be due to the fact that dry ears were not included in the present study, whereas the studies by Keefe et al[26] and Beers et al[6] might have included dry ears as there was no surgical confirmation of middle ear effusions. Another reason could be due to ceiling effect where all three tests are equally effective in identifying ears with definite effusion, whereas they may perform differently when there is a varying degree of difficulties in separating ears with OME from normal ears.

Ellison et al[8] investigated the test performance of WBAA to detect OME and reported an AROC of 0.93 (95% CI: 0.87–0.97). They also measured admittance magnitude (AROC: 0.93; 95% CI: 0.87–0.97), phase angle (AROC: 0.90; 95% CI: 0.82–0.95), and combined predictor of all three measures (AROC: 0.94; 95% CI: 0.88–0.98) and noted no significant differences between them. However, Ellison et al[8] used pneumatic otoscopy results as the reference standard and concluded that WBAA measures are at least as effective in predicting the presence of fluid in OME cases as those methods currently recommended by clinical guidelines which includes pneumatic otoscopy and 226-Hz tympanometry.

WBAA and WBATPP with different tympanometric patterns (normal, negative middle ear pressure and flat) obtained with the OME group was analyzed. In total, 52 ears had flat tympanograms, six ears had negative middle ear pressure and two ears had normal tympanograms in the OME group. As illustrated in [Figure 4], in general, for all the tympanogram types, both mean WBAA and WBATPP were reduced from 0.25 to 0.5 kHz. Between 0.5 and 2.5 kHz, OME ears with normal tympanogram had the l argest mean WBAA and WBATPP with values approaching the control group and slightly better than the control group at 1.25 and 1.5 kHz and decreasing steeply >2.5 kHz for mean WBATPP.

In comparison, ears with flat tympanograms in the OME group showed the lowest absorbance for both mean WBAA and WBATPP. OME ears with negative middle ear pressure showed absorbance in between OME with normal and flat tympanograms. OME ears with negative middle ear pressure and normal tympanogram demonstrated improvement in mean WBATPP relative to mean WBAA from 0.5 to 2.5 kHz and reduced absorbance >2.5 kHz. Despite the small number of ears with negative middle ear pressure, WBATPP provides useful data for ears with pre-exiting middle ear pathology and negative middle ear pressure. WBATPP measure compensates for the effect of the difference in pressure between the ear canal and the middle ear. For example, when child has a middle ear condition (fluid in the middle ear) plus Eustachian tube dysfunction (significant negative pressure), the WBATPP results will be significantly reduced when compared with control group even after compensating for the pressure differences. This may indicate presence of a pre-existing pathological condition (OME) in addition to Eustachian tube dysfunction as suggested by Margolis et al.[32]

Mean WBAA of children in the control and OME groups was compared with the previously reported studies by Keefe et al[26] and Terzi et al.[53] [Figure 5] shows the comparison of mean WBAA with control and OME groups of present study with other studies. Apart from slight differences in the WBAA, the results of the present study were comparable with those reported by the earlier studies. Results of control and OME group in the present study resembled closely to Keefe et al[26] study, whereas results of the study by Terzi et al[53] showed improved absorbance for the control group ∼1–2 kHz and OME group ∼1.5–3 kHz. Mean WBAA in healthy ears were highest between 2 and 4 kHz and reduced <2 and >4 kHz. Mean WBAA was reduced in ears with OME across all frequencies when compared with healthy ears.

The present study also analyzed the absorbance result based on thickness of the middle ear fluid as determined by an experienced ENT surgeon. Although classification of middle ear fluid was subjective, it revealed interesting findings. Both thick and thin fluid demonstrated similar absorbance pattern for WBAA with thin fluid showing slightly better absorbance between 0.8 and 2.5 kHz, and between 3 and 6 kHz. However, under WBATPP condition, thin fluid showed higher absorbance across the frequency range from 0.25 to 8 kHz, suggesting that WBATPP may have the ability to identify the thickness and/or viscosity of the middle ear fluid.

Several researchers have suggested that considering WBA over a frequency band is better than WBA at individual frequencies (Hunter et al[19]; Ellison et al[8]; Terzi et al[53]). For instance, Hunter et al[19] proposed area indices and they reported that absorbance in the frequency ranges ∼2 kHz (e.g., 1–2, 1–4, 2–4 kHz) provided the best prediction of referring on distortion product otoacoustic emissions in neonates. Terzi et al[53] investigated the efficiency of WBAA in identifying OME in children and reported that WBA averaged from 0.375 to 2 kHz had the highest diagnostic value of 0.984. Ellison et al[8] combined the multivariate information across frequencies into a univariate predictor and reported an AROC of 0.93 for WBAA for diagnosing OME. The present study showed an AROC of 0.92 for averaged WBAA between 1 and 2 kHz, 0.91 for averaged between 0.3–2 kHz and 0.90 for averaged between 2 and 8 kHz. These values agree with the above studies that have demonstrated high AROC for WBAA averaged over a frequency band. Nevertheless, AROC averaged across 1–2 kHz for WBAA was the same as AROC obtained at 1.5 kHz. However, AROC averaged across 1–2 kHz for WBATPP (0.88) was less than AROC at individual frequencies of 0.8, 1, and 1.25 kHz ([Table 4]).

Implications of the Study

The high test performance of WBAA and WBATPP against myringotomy suggests that both measures have high predictive accuracy for identification of OME in children. However, WBATPP showed predictive accuracy across a wider frequency range (0.3–6 kHz) than WBAA (0.6–4 kHz). In addition to this, WBATPP provides useful data for ears with both fluid and negative middle ear pressure conditions indicating that WBATPP can provide additional and diagnostically useful information such as reduced absorbance even after compensating for the pressure differences (Aithal et al[1]).

There was no significant difference in the predictive accuracy of WBAA and WBATPP when compared with 226-Hz admittance tympanometry and neither test performed significantly better than the other in identifying ears with definite effusion as confirmed by surgery. However, in clinical situations, WBA and 226-Hz admittance tympanometry may perform differently when there are varying degrees of OME.

The result of the present study also suggests that apart from individual frequencies, WBAA and WBATPP in the frequency band between 0.3 and 2 kHz, 1 and 2 kHz, and 2 and 8 kHz may identify the presence of OME in children. The cutoff values of 1–2 kHz averaged mean absorbance values of 0.38 and 0.51 for WBAA and WBATPP, respectively, in the present study ([Table 4]) may suggest the presence of OME in children. Cutoff values for other frequency bands are provided in the [Table 4].

The result of the present study also suggests that WBATPP may have the ability to classify the middle ear fluid as thick or thin noninvasively and may become a useful clinical tool to predict the nature of the middle ear fluid preoperatively. However, a large-scale study with objective methods of classifying middle ear fluid along with other wideband immittance measures is needed to confirm this observation.


#

Limitations of the Study

The loose age criterion for inclusion of children in the OME group could have confounded the results in the present study. Because of small sample size under different age group, effect of age was not studied in this study. The 10th percentile cutoff WBAA and WBATPP values were based on the normative values for the control group with an age range of 4.11–11.4 years and applied to the OME group where the age ranged from 1.1 to 14.3 years. Keefe et al[24] have shown that developments of the conductive system that strongly affect the acoustic responses of the ear are not complete at 24 months of age. Therefore, it is important to develop age-specific criteria for WBAA and WBATPP for the determination of OME in younger children.

Another limitation of the study is that compensation was not done for the residual positive pressure during the probe insertion. This could have an impact on the results as the residual positive pressure due to probe insertion could potentially be different in both the control and OME group. Furthermore, WAI measures of admittance, phase angle, equivalent ear canal volume, and resonance frequency were not analyzed in this study. It is possible that these measurements may provide distinctive profiles that might be useful for discrimination of different middle ear pathologies as suggested by Sanford and Brockett[41] and may be useful in separating dry ears from ears with fluids in OME cases.


#
#

Conclusions

Both WBAA and WBATPP demonstrated high test performance in predicting OME, but neither test performed significantly better than the other or 226-Hz admittance tympanometry. WBATPP showed predictive accuracy across a wider frequency region than WBAA. The AROC for WBAA was highest (0.92) at 1.5 kHz, whereas the AROC for WBATPP was highest (0.91) at 1.25 kHz.


#

Abbreviations

AC: air conduction
ANOVA: analysis of variance
AROC: area under ROC
BC: bone conduction
CI: confidence intervals
ENT: ear nose and throat
IQR: interquartile range
OME: otitis media with effusion
ROC: receiver operating characteristics
TEOAEs: transient evoked otoacoustic emissions
TPP: tympanometric peak pressure
WAI: wideband acoustic immittance
WBA: wideband absorbance
WBAA : wideband absorbance measured at ambient pressure
WBATPP : wideband absorbance measured at tympanometric peak pressure
WBT: wideband tympanometry

#

Conflict of Interest

None declared.


Address for correspondence

Venkatesh Aithal
Audiology Department, Townsville Hospital and Health Service
Douglas, Queensland
Australia   

Publication History

Publication Date:
02 September 2020 (online)

© 2020. Copyright © 2020 by the American Academy of Audiology. All rights reserved.

Thieme Medical Publishers
333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.


Zoom Image
Fig. 1 Mean AC and BC thresholds of participants in (A) control and (B) OME group. Error bar denotes ±1 SD.
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Fig. 2 (A) Mean WBAA and IQR from 0.25 to 8 kHz for the control and OME group. (B) Mean WBATPP and IQR from 0.25 to 8 kHz for the control and OME group. Vertical bars denote mean ±1 SEM. Shaded areas denote IQR (control group—light gray shading; OME group—dark gray shading).
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Fig. 3 Comparison of mean WBAA and WBATPP conditions for (A) control and (B) OME group. Error bar denotes ±1 SEM. Significant difference with p < 0.05 noted at 0.3–1.5 and 6 kHz for control group and 0.25–1.5 and 6 kHz for OME group.
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Fig. 4 Comparison of (A) WBAA and (B) WBATPP for control group and OME group with different types of tympanograms.
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Fig. 5 Comparison of mean WBAA with control and OME group of the present study with WBAA of the studies by Keefe et al[26] and Terzi et al.[53]
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Fig. 6 Comparison of (A) WBAA and (B) WBATPP for control and OME group with thick and thin effusion as determined by ENT surgeon during surgery.