Children with chronic otitis media (OM) often have conductive hearing loss which results in communication difficulties and requires surgical treatment. Recent studies have provided clinical evidence that there is a one-to-one correspondence between chronic OM and the presence of a bacterial biofilm behind the tympanic membrane (TM). Here we investigate the acoustic effects of bacterial biofilms, confirmed using optical coherence tomography (OCT), in adult ears. Non-invasive OCT images are collected to visualize the cross-sectional structure of the middle ear, verifying the presence of a biofilm behind the TM. Wideband measurements of acoustic reflectance and impedance (0.2-6 [kHz]) are used to study the acoustic properties of ears with confirmed bacterial biofilms. Compared to known acoustic properties of normal middle ears, each of the ears with a bacterial biofilm has an elevated power reflectance in the 1 to 3 [kHz] range, corresponding to an abnormally small resistance (real part of the impedance). These results provide assistance for the clinical diagnosis of a bacterial biofilm, which could lead to improved treatment of chronic middle ear infection and further understanding of the impact of chronic OM on conductive hearing loss. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled "MEMRO 2012".
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems