Pneumatic otoscopy: a review of the literature

Issues Compr Pediatr Nurs. 1998 Apr-Jun;21(2):117-28. doi: 10.1080/014608698265537.


Pneumatic otoscopy is a universally recommended method of diagnosing otitis media by detecting the presence of a middle ear effusion and hypomobility of the tympanic membrane. This review presents a synthesis of the existing research on the value of pneumatic otoscopy as a diagnostic tool. A literature search from 1987 to 1997 produced 11 applicable research articles. In five studies, which compared pneumatoscopy with myringotomy, the mean sensitivity score was 89% and the mean specificity score was 80%. In the only study of clinical use of pneumatic otoscopy, 21% of respondents always used it, while 42% never used it as part of their routine examinations. Education level of the examiner had no affect on the value of pneumatoscopic findings. Pneumatic otoscopy is an important diagnostic tool available to all health care providers, but replication of these studies is essential to support these results. Furthermore, research is needed to quantify its actual application on the clinical level.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Clinical Competence / standards
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Otological* / instrumentation
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Otological* / standards
  • Endoscopy / methods*
  • Endoscopy / standards
  • Humans
  • Otitis Media / diagnosis*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity