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Eur J Pediatr. 2007 May;166(5):385-91. Epub 2007 Jan 17.

Grommets in otitis media with effusion: the most frequent operation in children. But is it associated with significant complications?

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  • 1Ear, Nose and Throat Department, Hippokrateion General Hospital of Athens, 114 Vas. Sofias Ave., Athens, 11527, Greece.



Otitis media with effusion is one of the most frequent diseases in children, and its management requires the attention of general practitioners, pediatricians and ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeons. The main complications associated with tympanostomy tube insertion, are: (1) purulent otorrhea (10-26% of cases), in which local otic preparations might be effective, and biofilm-resistant tubes may decrease this complication in the future; (2) myringosclerosis (39-65% of operated ears), with usually no serious sequelae; (3) segmental atrophy (16-75% of cases); (4) atrophic scars and pars flaccida retraction pockets (28 and 21% of operated ears, respectively); (5) tympanic membrane perforations (3% of cases, although with T-tubes, the incidence may be as high as 24%); (6) cholesteatoma (1% of cases), although tympanostomy tubes may sometimes prevent, rather than contribute to its development; (7) granulation tissue (5-40% of instances), when the duration of tube retention is prolonged.


It would appear that the complications associated with tympanostomy tube insertion are more frequent than anticipated, reaching 80% of operated ears under specific circumstances and in certain subgroups of children. These complications may resolve with conservative management, but in persistent cases surgical removal of the tubes is mandatory.

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