Tuboimpedance: A New Test of Eustachian Tube Function

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Abstract

Objective

Eustachian tube (ET) dysfunction is most frequently caused by a failure of the ET to adequately open; however, there is currently no reliable method of assessing this. Tubomanometry has recently shown good interindividual repeatability as a measure of ET function by measuring middle ear pressure after the application of regulated nasopharyngeal pressures during swallowing. We present the first reports of a novel test: middle ear impedance measurements during standard nasopharyngeal pressure application (tuboimpedance). We assess repeatability in healthy ears and any advantages over tubomanometry.

Study Design

Exploratory cohort diagnosis study.

Setting

Tertiary referral center.

Subjects

Twenty screened, healthy ears (10 volunteers).

Methods

Tubomanometry and tuboimpedance tests were performed while individuals swallowed with applied nasopharyngeal pressures of 20, 30, 40, and 50 mbar. Eustachian tube opening detection rate and test repeatability (measured by intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC]) for immediate and delayed repeats at each pressure were compared.

Results

ET opening was detected more frequently using tuboimpedance, with a 100% detection rate using a nasopharyngeal pressure of 30 mbar or more, compared to 88% to 96% with tubomanometry. Detection of ET opening at 20 mbar was possible with tuboimpedance. Repeatability of both tests was mostly strong (ICC >0.7) for both immediate and delayed repeats. Repeatability for the tubomanometry R value was only fair to moderate.

Conclusion

Tuboimpedance may provide a repeatable measure of ET opening that is easier to perform due to lower nasopharyngeal pressures required and fewer issues with poor ear-probe sealing. Further assessment in patients with different forms of ET dysfunction is required.

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