Effectiveness of Tympanostomy Tubes for Otitis Media

Tympanostomy tube placement is the most common ambulatory surgery performed on children in the United States| Pediatrics

Objectives: The goal of this study was to synthesize evidence for the effectiveness of tympanostomy tubes in children with chronic otitis media with effusion and recurrent acute otitis media.

Results: Children with chronic otitis media with effusion treated with tympanostomy tubes compared with watchful waiting had a net decrease in mean hearing threshold of 9.1 dB (95% credible interval: −14.0 to −3.4) at 1 to 3 months and 0.0 (95% credible interval: −4.0 to 3.4) by 12 to 24 months. Children with recurrent acute otitis media may have fewer episodes after placement of tympanostomy tubes. Associated adverse events are poorly defined and reported.

Conclusions: Tympanostomy tubes improve hearing at 1 to 3 months compared with watchful waiting, with no evidence of benefit by 12 to 24 months. Children with recurrent acute otitis media may have fewer episodes after tympanostomy tube placement, but the evidence base is severely limited. The benefits of tympanostomy tubes must be weighed against a variety of associated adverse events.

Full reference: Steele, D.W. (2017) Effectiveness of Tympanostomy Tubes for Otitis Media: A Meta-analysis. Pediatrics. 139 (6) e20170125

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