Middle Ear Pressures in Wind Instrument Musicians

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Abstract

Objectives:

This study aimed to assess if playing wind instruments leads to a measurable increase in middle ear pressure during note generation and to provide evidence to clinicians to advise musicians undergoing middle ear surgery.

Study Design:

An observational cohort study of 40 volunteers in 7 different wind instrument categories underwent tympanometry at rest and during note production.

Setting:

Community.

Patients:

Recreational musicians aged over 18 years recruited from the student body attending Birmingham University, UK.

Intervention:

None.

Main Outcome Measures:

Tympanometry is used as a noninvasive measure of middle ear pressure. The pressure at which peak compliance occurred was taken as an indirect measure of middle ear pressure. The data produced at rest and during note production was statistically analysed with paired t testing and significance set at a p value less than 0.01.

Results:

Overall a statistically significant increase in middle ear pressure change of 0.63 mm Hg (p = 0.0001) during note production was identified. Musicians playing the oboe and trumpet demonstrate the largest increase in middle ear pressure of 1.46 mm Hg (p = 0.0053) and 0.78 mm Hg (p = 0.0005) respectively.

Conclusion:

The data provided by this study gives evidence for the first time that playing wind instruments does increase middle ear pressure. Although the clinical significance of this is yet to be determined the authors would advise that musicians who undergo otological procedures should refrain from playing their instruments until full recovery has been achieved as advised by their clinician following direct microscopic review.

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