Performing tympanometry using smartphones

Commun Med (Lond). 2022 Jun 16;2:57. doi: 10.1038/s43856-022-00120-9. eCollection 2022.


Background: Tympanometry is used as part of a battery of tests for screening of middle ear function and may help diagnose middle ear disorders, but remains available only on expensive test equipment.

Methods: We report a low-cost smartphone-based tympanometer system that consists of a lightweight and portable attachment to vary air pressure in the ear and measure middle ear function. The smartphone displays a tympanogram and reports peak acoustic admittance in realtime. Our programmable and open-source system operates at 226 Hz and was tested on 50 pediatric patient ears in an audiology clinic in parallel with a commercial tympanometer.

Results: Our study shows an average agreement of 86 ± 2% between the 100 tympanograms produced by the smartphone and commercial device when five pediatric audiologists classified them into five classes based on the Liden and Jerger classification.

Conclusion: Given the accessibility and prevalence of budget smartphones in developing countries, our open-source tool may help provide timely and affordable screening of middle ear disorders.

Keywords: Health care; Signs and symptoms.