JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Interventions for chronic suppurative otitis media

J Acuin, A Smith, I Mackenzie
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2000, (2): CD000473
10796720

BACKGROUND: Chronic suppurative otitis media (CSOM) is a serious bacterial infection of the middle ear that can follow untreated acute otitis media.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of different treatments for CSOM.

SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched Medline from 1966 to 1996 and a bibliographic collection of the Hearing Impairment Research Group in Liverpool, UK. We handsearched two otolaryngology journals and contacted members of an international hearing network.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomized trials of any method of management for patients with eardrum perforation and persistent otorrhea.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Three reviewers independently assessed eligibility and trial quality. One reviewer extracted data. We contacted investigators for clarifications.

MAIN RESULTS: Twenty-four trials involving 1660 people were included. Clinical definitions and severity of CSOM varied, methodological quality was generally low and follow-up was short. Treatment with antibiotics or antiseptics accompanied by aural toilet was more effective in resolving otorrhea than no treatment (two trials, odds ratio 0.37, 95% confidence interval 0.24 to 0. 57) or aural toilet alone (six trials, odds ratio 0.31, 95% confidence interval 0.23 to 0.43). Topical treatment with antibiotics or antiseptics was more effective than systemic antibiotics (six trials, odds ratio 0.46, 95% confidence interval 0.30 to 0.69). Combining topical and systemic antibiotics was not more effective than topical antibiotics. Topical quinolones were more effective than non-quinolones (five trials, odds ratio 0.26, 95% confidence interval 0.16 to 0.41). No difference in the effectiveness of topical antibiotics and topical antiseptics was found (three studies, odds ratio 1.34, 95% confidence interval 0.64 to 2.81). Some topical antibiotic combinations may be more effective than others in resolving otorrhea. Rates of adverse drug events were low and equal between groups.

REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS: Treatment of CSOM with aural toilet and topical antibiotics, particularly quinolones, is effective in resolving otorrhea and eradicating bacteria from the middle ear. Longterm outcomes such as preventing recurrences, closure of tympanic perforation and hearing improvement need to be further evaluated.

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