Acute otitis media (AOM) is defined as an infection of the middle ear marked by the presence of infected middle ear fluid and inflammation of the mucosa lining the middle ear space. It is the second most common pediatric diagnosis in the emergency department.
By three years of age, between 50% to 85% of children will have at least one episode of AOM. Acute otitis media causes human suffering and enormous costs to society. Symptoms of acute otitis media overlap those of the common cold, and diagnostic accuracy rate is as low as 50%. Uncertainty in diagnostics may lead either to overdiagnosis and unnecessary treatment or to underdiagnosis and an increase in complications.
Acute Otitis Media (AOM) causes poor conductance of the Chorda Tympani nerve, resulting in its functional impairment, interpreted by the brain as impaired taste sensation. During the inflammation period of AOM, there is a difference in the taste sensation at the two sides of the tongue.
While the unaffected side transmits normal taste sensation, on the affected side there is decrease in taste transmission and sensation. The taste buds can be activated with electrical stimulation and the gustatory evoked potentials (GEPs) can be recorded at the cortical gustatory cortex using EEG.
Given the observation that AOM is usually unilateral and that the taste sensation on the side of the infection is damaged, electrical stimulation of both sides of the tongue should resulted in different GEPs reading from the infected side compared to the intact side, detecting the presence of AOM.
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