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Prospective evaluation of the aetiology of acute otitis media with spontaneous tympanic membrane perforation.

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the aetiological role of the main bacterial pathogens associated with acute otitis media (AOM) in children with AOM and spontaneous tympanic membrane perforation (STMP).

METHODS: Between 1 May 2015 and 30 April 2016, 177 children, aged 6 months to 7 years, with AOM complicated by STMP within 12 h were prospectively enrolled. Middle ear fluid (MEF) was tested by real-time PCR for Streptococcus pneumoniae, non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pyogenes, Moraxella catarrhalis and Staphylococcus aureus.

RESULTS: Among the 177 children with AOM and STMP, 92/100 (92.0%) of those with recurrent AOM and 13/77 (16.9%) without recurrent AOM had recurrent STMP (p <0.001). A single pathogen was identified in 70 (39.5%) MEF samples, whereas two, three and four bacteria were detected in 54 (30.5%), 20 (11.3%), and 7 (4.0%) cases, respectively. Non-typeable H. influenzae was the most common and was identified in 90 children (50.8%), followed by M. catarrhalis (62 cases, 35.0%) and S. pneumoniae (48 cases, 27.1%). Non-typeable H. influenzae was the most frequent pathogen in children with co-infections. Children with co-infections, including non-typeable H. influenzae, had significantly more frequent recurrent AOM (adjusted OR 6.609, 95% CI 1.243-39.096, p 0.029).

CONCLUSIONS: Recurrent AOM episodes appear to be associated with an increased risk of AOM with STMP. In AOM with STMP, non-typeable H. influenzae is detected at a high frequency, especially in children with recurrent STMP and often in association with other pathogens.

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