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Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2009 Feb;73(2):307-13. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2008.10.026. Epub 2008 Dec 16.

Middle ear disease in children with cleft palate: protocols for management.

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Cleft and Craniofacial Surgery Service, Regional Centre for Plastic Surgery, Middlemore Hospital, Private Bag 93311, Otahuhu, Auckland, New Zealand.



There is wide international variation in the protocols used for middle ear disease management in cleft palate patients. Ventilation tube (grommet) insertion may occur routinely at the time of palatoplasty or selectively on a separate occasion if symptomatic middle ear disease develops. The audiological and otologic outcomes of cleft palate patients were studied in a single institution over a timeframe in which both protocols were utilised.


This was a retrospective study of 234 cleft palate patients who underwent palatoplasty from 1990 to 2005 at Middlemore Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand. Data on hearing loss, middle ear disease, and tympanic membrane abnormalities was collected from clinical notes. Audiological data was obtained from pure tone audiogram reports.


Forty-five patients had routine grommets inserted concurrent with palatoplasty and 189 patients were managed conservatively with selective grommet insertion if indicated. Grommets were subsequently required in 79 (41.8%) of these 189 patients. There was no difference in the incidence of persistent conductive hearing loss, but recurrent middle ear disease, tympanic membrane abnormalities, and the total number of grommet insertions were significantly higher in the routine grommet group. Poorer outcomes were noted in patients who had undergone a greater number of grommet insertions.


No significant deterioration in audiological outcomes and better otologic outcomes were found in cleft palate patients undergoing selective grommet insertion compared to routine grommet insertion. It is recommended that ventilation tube placement occur in patients selected on the basis of symptomatic infection or significant hearing loss.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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