Effectiveness of Tympanic Thermometry for diagnosing Acute Otitis Media

  • Muhammad Zubair Audiologist, Isra University, Islamabad
  • Ghulam Saqulain Head, Department of ENT, CDA Capital Hospital, Islamabad
  • Arfat Jawaid ENT Surgeon, Department of ENT, FC Hospital, Quetta
Keywords: Axillary temperature, Infrared tympanic thermometer, Otitis media, Tympanic temperature


Background: Acute Otitis Media (AOM) is a common upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) in children and usually presents with fever and otalgia. AOM is characterized by congested tympanic membrane and possible increase in temperature, which might be picked up by infrared tympanic thermometry. The objective of this study was to compare the temperature difference of tympanic membrane of affected ear with the unaffected ear and axilla in unilateral acute otitis media, and compare it with the control group.
Material and Methods: This case control study comprised of 200 cases of both genders, aged up to 5 years. They were divided into two groups; Group A included 100 clinically diagnosed cases of acute otitis media (AOM), who reported in the ENT Outpatient Department (OPD) and Group B included 100 controls who presented in General Filter Clinic with no ear complaints. Cases with chronic ear disease, ear discharge, and use of local drugs including ear drops, impacted ear wax, tragal tenderness and congenital malformations of the ear were excluded by taking a detailed history. Clinical examination including otoscopy by an expert was done before subjecting patients to axillary and tympanic thermometry measurements and data recording. Data was collected and tabulated using Microsoft Excel Worksheet and analyzed by SPSS 16. Qualitative data like gender were presented as percentage and ratio, while means and standard deviation were calculated for the quantitative data. Difference between the means of experimental and control groups were analyzed by independent sample t-test and P value of less than or equal to 0.05 was taken as significant.
Results: This study included 100 cases of unilateral AOM and 100 normal controls without AOM. In patients with AOM, the mean temperature difference between the affected ear and axilla was 1.41ºF as compared to 0.075ºF in controls (p=0.026). While the mean temperature difference between the affected ear and other ear was 0.65ºF as compared to 0.19ºF in controls (p=0.069).
Conclusion: In acute otitis media, the temperature of affected ear is significantly higher than axilla but was not significantly higher than the other ear. The finding may help establish thermometry as a diagnostic tool in clinics manned by doctors not competent to do otoscopy.

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