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Journal

Use of the nine-step inflation/deflation test and resting middle-ear pressure range as predictors of middle-ear barotrauma in aircrew members

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Published:25th Mar 2020

Objective:

To explore the role of the nine-step inflation/deflation tympanometric test and resting middle-ear pressure range as predictors of barotrauma in aircrew members.

Methods:

A prospective, non-randomised study was conducted on 100 aircrew members. Resting middle-ear pressure was measured and the nine-step inflation/deflation test performed on all subjects before flights. Subjects were allocated to two groups according to resting middle-ear pressure range (group A, within the range of +26 to +100 and −26 to −100 mmH2O; group B, −25 to +25 mmH2O). All aircrew members were assessed after flights regarding the presence and the grade of barotrauma.

Results:

In both groups, the sensitivity and specificity values of the entire post-inflation/deflation test were close to those of the post-deflation part of the test. The post-deflation test had a higher negative predictive value than the post-inflation test. Ears with resting middle-ear pressure lower than −55 mmH2O experienced barotrauma, regardless of good or poor post-inflation or post-deflation test results.

Conclusion:

In an aircrew member, a resting middle-ear pressure within the range of −55 and +50 mmH2O, together with good post-deflation test results, are considered reliable predictors for fitness to fly.

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