Factors affecting sound energy absorbance in acute otitis media model of chinchilla

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Acute otitis media (AOM) is a rapid-onset infection of the middle ear which results in middle ear pressure (MEP), middle ear effusion (MEE), and structural changes in middle ear tissues. Previous studies from our laboratory have identified that MEP, MEE, and middle ear structural changes are three factors affecting tympanic membrane (TM) mobility and hearing levels (Guan et al., 2014, 2013). Sound energy reflectance or absorbance (EA) is a diagnostic tool increasingly used in clinical settings for the identification of middle ear diseases. However, it is unclear whether EA can differentiate these three factors in an AOM ear. Here we report wideband EA measurements in the AOM model of chinchilla at three experimental stages: unopened, pressure released, and effusion removed. These correspond to the combined and individual effects of the three factors on sound energy transmission. AOM was produced by transbullar injection of Haemophilus influenzae in two treatment groups: 4 days (4D) and 8 days (8D) post inoculation. These time points represent the relatively early and later phase of AOM. In each group of chinchillas, EA at 250–8000 Hz was measured using a wideband tympanometer at three experimental stages. Results show that the effects of MEP, MEE, and tissue structural changes over the frequency range varied with the disease time course. MEP was the primary contributor to reduction of EA in 4D AOM ears and had a smaller effect in 8D ears. MEE reduced the EA at 6–8 kHz in 4D ears and 2–8 kHz in 8D ears and was responsible for the EA peak in both 4D and 8D ears. The residual EA loss due to structural changes was observed over the frequency range in 8D ears and only at high frequencies in 4D ears. The EA measurements were also compared with the published TM mobility loss in chinchilla AOM ears.

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