Pneumatic low-coherence interferometry otoscope to quantify tympanic membrane mobility and middle ear pressure

Jungeun Won, Guillermo L. Monroy, Pin Chieh Huang, Roshan Dsouza, Malcolm C. Hill, Michael A. Novak, Ryan G. Porter, Eric Chaney, Ronit Barkalifa, Stephen A. Boppart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pneumatic otoscopy to assess the mobility of the tympanic membrane (TM) is a highly recommended diagnostic method of otitis media (OM), a widespread middle ear infection characterized by the fluid accumulation in the middle ear. Nonetheless, limited depth perception and subjective interpretation of small TM displacements have challenged the appropriate and efficient examination of TM dynamics experienced during OM. In this paper, a pneumatic otoscope integrated with low coherence interferometry (LCI) was adapted with a controlled pressure-generating system to record the pneumatic response of the TM and to estimate middle ear pressure (MEP). Forty-two ears diagnosed as normal (n = 25), with OM (n = 10), or associated with an upper respiratory infection (URI) (n = 7) were imaged with a pneumatic LCI otoscope with an axial, transverse, and temporal resolution of 6 µm, 20 µm, and 1 msec, respectively. The TM displacement under pneumatic pressure transients (a duration of 0.5 sec with an intensity of ± 150 daPa) was measured to compute two metrics (compliance and amplitude ratio). These metrics were correlated with peak acoustic admittance and MEP from tympanometry and statistically compared via Welch’s t-test. As a result, the compliance represents pneumatic TM mobility, and the amplitude ratio estimates MEP. The presence of a middle ear effusion (MEE) significantly decreased compliance (p<0.001). The amplitude ratio of the OM group was statistically less than that of the normal group (p<0.01), indicating positive MEP. Unlike tympanometry, pneumatic LCI otoscopy quantifies TM mobility as well as MEP regardless of MEE presence. With combined benefits of pneumatic otoscopy and tympanometry, pneumatic LCI otoscopy may provide new quantitative metrics for understanding TM dynamics and diagnosing OM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number#308905
Pages (from-to)397-409
Number of pages13
JournalBiomedical Optics Express
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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