What is the role of tympanocentesis in the diagnosis of acute otitis media (AOM)?

Updated: Sep 25, 2019
  • Author: John D Donaldson, MD, FRCSC, FACS; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Tympanocentesis involves aspiration of the contents of the middle ear cleft by piercing the tympanic membrane with a needle and collecting that material for diagnostic examination.

Tympanocentesis should be performed in the following patients with AOM:

  • Neonates who are younger than 6 weeks (and therefore are more likely to have an unusual or more invasive pathogen)

  • Immunosuppressed or immunocompromised patients

  • Patients in whom adequate antimicrobial treatment has failed and who continue to show signs of local or systemic sepsis

  • Patients with a complication that requires a culture for adequate therapy

See Workup for more detail.

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