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July 1959

Primary Diphtheritic Otitis Media: Review of the Literature and Report of a Case

Author Affiliations

Tacoma, Wash.
Former Address: Indian Health Center, Chamberlain, S. D.

AMA Arch Otolaryngol. 1959;70(1):27-31. doi:10.1001/archotol.1959.00730040031005

The purpose of this paper is to review the literature on primary diphtheritic otitis media since 1925, when the last comprehensive study was published,1 to report in detail a case recently encountered, and to discuss various facts pertinent to this infection.

Since 1925, 22 cases have been reported in American and English literature; 17 of these were described in detail. The cases have been summarized in table form.

For the purposes of this review, the criteria by which a case of otitis media is classified as primary diphtheritic are as follows:

  1. The middle ear was the site of the major pathology.

  2. A positive culture for Corynebacterium diphtheriae was obtained from the aural discharge.

  3. Nasopharyngeal cultures, when obtained, were negative at the time of the first positive ear culture. In some instances nasopharyngeal cultures later were positive.

In a recent study2 of 1,433 cases of bacteriologically

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