CONSENSUS DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE
International consensus (ICON) on management of otitis media with effusion in children.
Otitis media with effusion (OME) is a common childhood disease defined as the presence of liquid in the middle ear without signs or symptoms of acute ear infection. Children can be impacted mainly with hearing impairment and/or co-occurring recurrent acute otitis media (AOM) thus requiring treatment. Although many meta-analyses and national guidelines have been issued, management remains difficult to standardize, and use of surgical and medical treatments continue to vary. We convened an international consensus conference as part of the 2017 International Federation of Oto-rhino-laryngological Societies Congress, to identify best practices in OME management. Overall, regional differences were minor and consensual management was obtained on several important issues. At initial assessment, although a thorough medical examination is necessary to seek reflux, allergy or nasal obstruction symptoms; an age-appropriate auditory test is the only assessment required in children without abnormal history. Non-surgical treatments poorly address the underlying problem of an age-dependent dysfunctional Eustachian tube; auto-inflation seems to be the only beneficial, low-risk and low-cost non-surgical therapy. There was a clear international recommendation against using steroids, antibiotics, decongestants or antihistamines to treat OME, because of side-effects, cost issues and no convincing evidence of long-term effectiveness. Decisions to insert tympanostomy ventilation tubes should be based on an auditory test but also take into account the child's context and overall hearing difficulties. Tubes significantly improve hearing and reduce the number of recurrent AOM with effusion while in place. Adjuvant adenoidectomy should be considered in children over four years of age, and in those with significant nasal obstruction or infection.
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