Ear-canal reflectance, umbo velocity, and tympanometry in normal-hearing adults

John J. Rosowski, Hideko H. Nakajima, Mohamad A. Hamade, Lorice Mahfoud, Gabrielle R. Merchant, Christopher F. Halpin, Saumil N. Merchant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Objective: This study compares measurements of ear-canal reflectance (ECR) to other objective measurements of middle ear function including audiometry, umbo velocity (VU), and tympanometry in a population of strictly defined normal-hearing ears. Design: Data were prospectively gathered from 58 ears of 29 normal-hearing subjects, 16 females and 13 males, aged 22 to 64 yr. Subjects met all of the following criteria to be considered as having normal hearing: (1) no history of significant middle ear disease; (2) no history of otologic surgery; (3) normal tympanic membrane on otoscopy; (4) pure-tone audiometric thresholds of 20 dB HL or better for 0.25 to 8 kHz; (5) air-bone gaps no greater than 15 dB at 0.25 kHz and 10 dB for 0.5 to 4 kHz; (6) normal, type-A peaked tympanograms; and (7) all subjects had two "normal" ears (as defined by these criteria). Measurements included pure-tone audiometry for 0.25 to 8 kHz, standard 226 Hz tympanometry, ECR for 0.2 to 6 kHz at 60 dB SPL using the Mimosa Acoustics HearID system, and umbo velocity (VU) for 0.3 to 6 kHz at 70 to 90 dB SPL using the HLV-1000 laser Doppler vibrometer (Polytec Inc). Results: Mean power reflectance (|ECR|) was near 1.0 at 0.2 to 0.3 kHz, decreased to a broad minimum of 0.3 to 0.4 between 1 and 4 kHz, and then sharply increased to almost 0.8 by 6 kHz. The mean pressure reflectance phase angle (ECR) plotted on a linear frequency scale showed a group delay of approximately 0.1 msec for 0.2 to 6 kHz. Small significant differences were observed in |ECR| at the lowest frequencies between right and left ears and between males and females at 4 kHz. |ECR| decreased with age but reached significance only at 1 kHz. Our ECR measurements were generally similar to previous published reports. Highly significant negative correlations were found between |ECR| and VU for frequencies below 1 kHz. Significant correlations were also found between the tympanometrically determined peak total compliance and |ECR| and VU at frequencies below 1 kHz. The results suggest that middle ear compliance contributes significantly to the measured power reflectance and umbo velocity at frequencies below 1 kHz but not at higher frequencies. Conclusions: This study has established a database of objective measurements of middle ear function (ECR, umbo velocity, tympanometry) in a population of strictly defined normal-hearing ears. These data will promote our understanding of normal middle ear function and will serve as a control for comparison to similar measurements made in pathological ears.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-34
Number of pages16
JournalEar and hearing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Speech and Hearing

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