CONTEXT: Children with tympanostomy tubes often develop ear discharge.
OBJECTIVE: Synthesize evidence about the need for water precautions (ear plugs or swimming avoidance) and effectiveness of topical versus oral antibiotic treatment of otorrhea in children with tympanostomy tubes.
DATA SOURCES: Searches in Medline, the Cochrane Central Trials Registry and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Excerpta Medica Database, and the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature.
STUDY SELECTION: Abstracts and full-text articles independently screened by 2 investigators.
DATA EXTRACTION: 25 articles were included.
RESULTS: One randomized controlled trial (RCT) in children assigned to use ear plugs versus no precautions reported an odds ratio (OR) of 0.68 (95% confidence interval, 0.37–1.25) for >1 episode of otorrhea. Another RCT reported an OR of 0.71 (95% confidence interval, 0.29–1.76) for nonswimmers versus swimmers. Network meta-analyses suggest that, relative to oral antibiotics, topical antibiotic–glucocorticoid drops were more effective: OR 5.3 (95% credible interval, 1.2–27). The OR for antibiotic-only drops was 3.3 (95% credible interval, 0.74–16). Overall, the topical antibiotic–glucocorticoid and antibiotic-only preparations have the highest probabilities, 0.77 and 0.22 respectively, of being the most effective therapies.
LIMITATIONS: Sparse randomized evidence (2 RCTs) and high risk of bias for nonrandomized comparative studies evaluating water precautions. Otorrhea treatments include non–US Food and Drug Administration approved, off-label, and potentially ototoxic antibiotics.
CONCLUSIONS: No compelling evidence of a need for water precautions exists. Cure rates are higher for topical drops than oral antibiotics.
- Accepted March 15, 2017.
- Copyright © 2017 by the American Academy of Pediatrics