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South Med J. 1988 Mar;81(3):332-6.

Bacteriology of middle ear effusions.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston 77550.


We studied fluid obtained from middle ear effusions (MEEs) during 908 myringotomy and tube insertion procedures on 495 children aged 4 months to 12 years. Under general anesthesia the external auditory canal was sterilized with povidone-iodine (Betadine) and alcohol, and myringotomy was done. Fluid was aspirated into a Luki tube and sent for culture and sensitivity determination. The median age of patients was 3 years 5 months; 1-year-old children comprised the largest single group. Two thirds of the children were male. Effusion was present in three fourths of the ears; in about 20% of these, culture grew bacteria. Haemophilus influenzae made up almost 50% of the pathogens, with the percentage decreasing with age. Almost 90% of the H influenzae organisms were sensitive to erythromycin, and about three fourths to ampicillin and cephalosporin.

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