Vestibular screening in pediatric patients with otitis media

Sonia Kim Rehagen, Maureen Valente, Judith E.C. Lieu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Otitis media with effusion (OME) is a common cause of vestibular disturbances in children. However, young children often lack the language to express their symptoms, and it is uncommon to screen children for vestibular impairments. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to develop a screening protocol for children presenting with OME to determine if diagnostic vestibular testing is necessary. Research Design: Children with normal hearing (NH), sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), and conductive hearing loss (CHL) due to OME participated in a vestibular screening. Study Sample: There were 30 participants, ages four to eight years, ranging from 48 to 101 months included in the study: 10 with NH, 11 with CHL due to OME, and 9 with SNHL. Data Collection and Analysis: The vestibular screening consists of patient and parent questionnaires and a functional evaluation. The tests examined coordination, balance, oculomotor function, and nystagmus. Results: Those with CHL were significantly more likely to display abnormal smoothness of pursuit, as measured with observations for rapid tracking, absence of or delayed saccades, and overshoot, than those with NH or SNHL (p 5 0.012). Parents of children with CHL due to OME were more likely to report their child experiencing middle ear pressure than the parents of children with NH or SNHL (p 5 0.010). In addition, children with CHL were less likely to report hearing loss than those with NH or SNHL. Parent and patient report were not found to be reliable indicators of vestibular disturbances. Conclusions: This pilot study suggests that children with CHL due to OME present with more oculomotor abnormalities than their peers with NH. Further research is necessary to determine validity and reliability of the findings for this present study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-216
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Audiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020


  • Balance
  • Otitis media with effusion
  • Vestibular screening


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