Ear Tube Placement Shows Satisfying Long-Term Benefit

Early ear surgery may also show
benefit in long-term view
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Ear infections (otitis media or OM) and ear infections with accumulated fluid (otitis media with effusion or OME) bring young children into physicians' offices more than any other childhood disease, according to background information in the article.

Recurrent acute otitis media (RAOM) and otitis media with effusion are the main reason for the insertion of ventilation tubes (VT) in the ear. Minor surgery to drain the ear and insert tubes in the ear is the most common surgical procedure among young children in the United States.

Instant improvement of hearing is one of the beneficial effects of the surgery and, the authors suggest, may be associated with long-term reduction in risk of subsequent language, educational and developmental impairments.

Hannu Valtonen, M.D., Ph.D., of Kuopio University Hospital, Finland, and colleagues report on the results of follow-up checkups 14 years following surgery for 237 children who had tubes inserted to treat ear infections at the age of five to16 months. The children had also participated in an earlier follow-up visit five years following the surgery. In addition to assessing their hearing levels, children were assessed on whether the ear had healed, for a history of repeat procedures, for abnormal outcomes and on whether they required more extensive ear surgery.

The hearing level of healed ears was comparable to that of age-matched normal ears. Abnormal outcomes were more common when the child had an ear infection with accumulated fluid, or had required three or more tube insertions. Repeated tube insertion and other ear surgery was also more common in those with the more serious condition.

"Based on our results, we conclude that tympanostomy tube insertion early in life, and repeated if necessary, for OME or RAOM is a safe and useful treatment method,” the authors conclude.

MEDICA.de; Source: American Medical Association (AMA)