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Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1997 Nov;117(5):475-9.

Nebulized surfactant for experimentally induced otitis media with effusion.

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Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana 70112-2699, USA.


Eustachian tube dysfunction frequently results in clinical evidence of otitis media with effusion (OME). Surface active substances, surfactants, are hypothesized to play a role in normal eustachian tube function. Recent work in a rodent model has demonstrated improved eustachian tube function with topical application of surfactants to the middle ear. A novel, noninvasive, and clinically practical method of delivering surfactant to the eustachian tube was studied in a gerbil model of OME. Otitis media with effusion was experimentally induced in 20 gerbils by transtympanic inoculation of heat-killed Streptococcus pneumoniae. This represents a well established model for creating a serous effusion in the gerbil that significantly increases eustachian tube opening pressure. Effusion developed in 27 of 40 ears (67.5%) after inoculation. An inhaled nebulized surfactant was used to treat the animals with microscopically confirmed OME in one or both ears. The treatment period was 5 days. Eustachian tube opening studies were performed on both affected and nonaffected animals. Successful eustachian tube opening pressures were obtained in 30 of 36 ears (83.3%). The mean opening pressure for ears without effusion (healthy ears) was 42.8 mmHg. The mean opening pressure for ears with effusion in animals treated with nebulized surfactant was 41.4 mmHg. The difference between these mean values was not statistically significant (t = 0.32; p > 0.50). This pilot study suggests that inhaled nebulized surfactant may be efficacious in treating eustachian tube dysfunction when manifested in disorders such as OME.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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