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A Journal on Pediatrics, Neonatology, Adolescent Medicine,
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Minerva Pediatrica 2016 December;68(6):470-7

language: English

Otoscopic diagnosis of otitis media

Glenn ISAACSON 1, 2

1 Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA; 2 Department of Pediatrics Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA


Accurate diagnosis of otitis media is important to prevent suffering and complications when infection is present, and unnecessary antibiotic use when infection is absent. The usual signs and symptoms of acute otitis media are unreliable guides in infants and young children. Similarly, middle ear effusions may present with little discomfort in older children. We therefore depend on examination of the tympanic membrane with an otoscope to make most diagnoses. This article aims to improve the accuracy of middle ear diagnosis by pneumatic otoscopy. It includes descriptions and photographs of the normal ear drum and illustrates the pathologic changes seen in acute otitis media, long-standing eustachian tube dysfunction and otitis media with effusion.

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