Tympanic membrane perforation, a common finding, is typically caused by infection, trauma, or iatrogenic effects. The clinical presentation varies according to the size and location of the perforation. Symptomatic individuals will have a conductive hearing loss and possibly other signs as well. Diagnosis is based on otoscopy and further testing.
Tympanic membrane perforation is a rare medical entity. There are numerous causes, of which infection, trauma, and iatrogenic consequences are the most frequent  . Of importance, perforation results as a complication from acute and chronic otitis media  . Moreover, one particular study found a link between recurrent acute otitis media and spontaneous perforation . Iatrogenic effects stem from procedures such as ear irrigation, outcomes related to tympanostomy tubes  , or even cerumen removal. Other etiologies of perforation include blunt trauma to the ear and exposure to elevated atmospheric pressure such as with explosions, diving, and air travel  . Specifically, tympanic membrane perforation is the most prevalent finding with ear trauma .
One of the main features is conductive hearing loss , which correlates with the size of the perforation . In addition to the latter, the effects are reflective of the location of the perforation and the presence of any other existing condition. If associated with otitis media or cholesteatoma, the perforation is typically painful. Additionally, a concomitant ear infection with perforation may be associated with copious purulent drainage.
Individuals with perforation may hear whistling sounds during pressure changes situations such as sneezing or nose blowing. Additionally, affected individuals are vulnerable to infection when water enters the ear canal and during upper respiratory illness. The perforation may last for a short duration or persist. If it does not spontaneously heal, it becomes chronic with residual perforation.
These patients had been referred to us for evaluation of chronic, mostly treatment-refractory otitis externa, which had manifested as otorrhea, otalgia, and/or pruritus. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
However, the majority of the patients that I see with acute traumatic tympanic membrane perforations are symptomatic, and their prime complaints are decreased hearing, tinnitus, and otalgia. [jamanetwork.com]
The subject lost his consciousness temporarily at the time of the accident and was sent to an Intensive Care Unit complaining of dyspnea, intense chest pain, and bilateral otalgia and tinnitus. [bjorl.org]
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Healing outcome at 4, 8, 12 weeks; effects of perforation size, location, and mode of injury, active intervention and ear discharge on healing outcome. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
You may also have ear discharge, tinnitus (ringing or buzzing sound in the ear), or dizziness. Ear discharge may be clear, bloody, or yellowish and thick. A mild eardrum perforation may heal on its own over time. [drugs.com]
Otomicroscopic view of central perforation of tympanic membrane in a patient presenting with ear discharge and hearing loss (click on image for an enlarged view) Central perforation of tympanic membrane is that which is not involving the annulus and is [pgblazer.com]
Unilateral/bilateral CSOM of safe type with no history of ear discharge for atleast 6 weeks were selected randomly irrespective of age and gender. [indianjotol.org]
Conductive hearing impairment accounted for 61.6% while sensorineural hearing impairment 25.3%. The most common degrees of hearing impairment were mild and moderate and accounted for 47.1% and 25.1%, respectively. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
In this study, conductive hearing impairment is the most common type of hearing impairment and accounted for 326 (61.6%) followed by sensorineural hearing impairment in 134 (25.3%) and mixed hearing impairment in 69 (13.1%). [njcponline.com]
Knowledge of the degree of hearing impairment is critical and a complete hearing assessment will be obtained. [entforkidsalabama.com]
Correlation of hearing impairment with site of tympanic membrane perforation. Journal Institute Med. 2005;27(2):. Ibekwe TS, Nwaorgu OG, Ijaduola TG. Correlating the site of tympanic membrane perforation with Hearing loss. [ijorl.com]
Physical examination: cyanosis of the face, upper third of the chest, and anterior and posterior portion of the chest (Figure 1A); bilateral otorrhagia and epistaxis, and subconjunctival hemorrhage (Figure 1B). [bjorl.org]
Erythematous Tympanic Membrane
Normal Tympanic Membrane Pink Tympanic Membrane, often seen with fever or upper respiratory tract infections Bulging and erythematous Tympanic Membrane in AOM Otitis Media with Effusion "glue ear" Middle ear effusion Loss of TM landmarks, particularly [rch.org.au]
A perforated tympanic membrane is identified during routine otoscopy although smaller sized ones may need otomicroscopy. If pneumatic otoscopy is done, it reveals an immobile tympanic membrane in affected patients .
Note that the tympanic membrane may be obscured by cerumen, foreign objects, or outgrowths of skin or cartilage that are present in the external auditory canal . Additional challenges in visualizing the tympanic membrane can occur due to difficulty with proper positioning; the latter is especially seen in children.
Once a perforation is diagnosed, audiometry is performed but is usually normal. This should be repeated prior to and after any surgical procedure.
Impedance testing may be advised as well. Tympanometry in affected individuals is associated with a flat type B tympanogram, which is a finding consistent with perforation . This requires specialized tools.
If the perforation is not confirmed with the above tests, another technique can be done. This involves filling the patient's affected ear canal with saline or distilled water followed by execution of the Valsalva maneuver. Consequently, the presence of stream bubbles renders this a positive result.
Imaging is only obtained if there is evidence of bone destruction or cholesteatoma. Otherwise, X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are not usually performed.
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