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October 1966

The Abnormally Patent Eustachian Tube

Arch Otolaryngol. 1966;84(4):418-421. doi:10.1001/archotol.1966.00760030420009

IN 1853, Toynbee1 described the eustachian tube as normally being closed, opening only during the process of swallowing. The pathologic entity of the widely open or patulous eustachian tube has been well documented, and its history is well reviewed by Perlman2 and Miller.3 It may occur far more often than is generally recognized and may frequently be overlooked.

Despite early descriptions of the condition,4-9 interest in it waned until Pitman's report in 1929.10 Other reports followed.2,3,11-20

The patient with an abnormally patent eustachian tube complains of intermittent fullness in the affected ear. The vehement manner in which the history is related makes it evident that this is far more disturbing than the symptoms caused by tubal obstruction. "The patient may give the impression of being psychoneurotic because he is so disturbed by the symptoms."20 There is usually no history of pain, nausea, vomiting,