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Hearing Problems Associated with Otitis Media Surgery

Researchers recommend more rigorous selection criteria for ventilation tube treatment

TUESDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Tympanic membrane pathologic abnormalities and elevated hearing thresholds are more common in children who receive ventilation tube (VT) treatment for otitis media than in children who receive medical treatment, according to research published in the December issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Robert Stenstrom, M.D., of St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, British Columbia, and colleagues studied 125 children who participated in a randomized controlled trial of VT treatment versus medical treatment for recurrent otitis media with effusion (OME). They evaluated the children's hearing six to 10 years after the trial.

The researchers identified tympanic membrane pathologic abnormalities in 81% of VT subjects versus 19% of medical treatment subjects. They also found that hearing thresholds were 2.1 to 8.1 dB higher in the VT subjects. "These findings are not explainable by differences in otitis media severity," the authors conclude. "More rigorous criteria for the selection of children receiving VTs for the treatment of chronic OME should be adopted."

Although the author of an accompanying editorial called the study's guideline section somewhat confusing, he found that it recommends a new approach. "For otherwise normal, asymptomatic children with OME associated with hearing thresholds of less than 40 dB, the section recommends watchful waiting without surgical procedures, with three- to six-month reassessments to check for symptoms, hearing and the development of tympanic membrane pathologic abnormalities."

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