Study finds ear tube surgery safe for youngsters

Children with ear infections so severe that tubes have to be inserted in their ears early in life hear as well as other youngsters by the time they reach their teen years, a study said on Monday.

Inserting tubes to drain the ears, the most common kind of surgery done on U.S. children, is “safe and useful,” even if it has to be repeated, the report from Finland’s Kuopio University Hospital said.

“Parents should be informed of the long follow-up, of the possible need for repeated (tube) insertion, and of potential (problems) that sometimes necessitate surgical intervention,” it added. But “Patients healed after five years do not need further follow-up,” it said.

The report, published in the Archives of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, was based on 14 years of study involving 237 children in Finland who had ear tubes inserted when they were from 5 to 16 months old.

After 14 years their hearing was comparable to that of children who did not have the procedure, the report said.

Inserting tubes brings instant improvement in hearing and may help the children avoid subsequent language, educational and developmental problems, the study said.

“Ear surgery ... is not hazardous for hearing, as such,” the report said, but in cases of chronic middle ear infections other procedures may be required.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: July 5, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD