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Ear Tubes Appear to Be Safe Before Cochlear Implantation

No adverse effects noted in pediatric study

MONDAY, June 21 (HealthDay News) -- Using ear tubes to treat infections is safe for children who later receive cochlear implants, a new study finds.

U.S. researchers studied 78 ears of 62 children (average age 3.2 years) who received ear tubes before cochlear implants. In 46 (59 percent) of the cases, the ear tubes were removed before cochlear implantation surgery. In all the other cases, the ear tubes were left in place until cochlear implantation.

The study found that 10 (22 percent) of the 46 ears in which the tubes were removed before cochlear implantation required additional tubes later, compared with six (19 percent) of the 32 ears in which tubes remained in place until cochlear implantation.

The study is published in the June issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery.

The eardrums of all the children in the study healed, but three persistent eardrum perforations required surgery. There were no cases of meningitis or removal of cochlear implants because of infection.

"The minimization of potential infectious complications is a priority for the cochlear implant surgeon who is operating on a child with a history of myringotomy tube placement," Dr. Christopher F. Baranano and colleagues at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical School said in a news release from the journal's publisher. "While manipulation of the tympanic membrane [ear drum] with myringotomy tube insertion, myringotomy tube exchange or perforation repair is not without risks, in the current study the management of the myringotomy tube before cochlear implantation did not adversely affect outcomes."

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about ear infections.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, June 21, 2010

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