[Skip to Navigation]
August 1994

Which Children Are Being Operated On for Recurrent Acute Otitis Media?

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Otolaryngology (Drs Alho and Sorri) and Applied Mathematics and Statistics (Dr Oja and Mr Kilkku), University of Oulu, and the Department of Pediatrics (Dr Koivu), University of Kuopio, Finland.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1994;120(8):807-811. doi:10.1001/archotol.1994.01880320013004

Objective:  To examine at the population level which children were operated on for recurrent acute otitis media episodes, how ill they were, and what factors affected the operation rate.

Design:  A retrospective birth cohort with an approximate 2-year follow-up. Infection data were gathered from medical records, and background information was gathered from questionnaires.

Setting:  Primary health care centers, hospitals, and private practices in 10 randomly selected local government districts in the two northernmost provinces of Finland.

Subjects:  A random sample of 2512 children from the cohort.

Outcome Measures:  Adenoidectomy and/or tympanostomy tube insertion.

Results:  Only one of 10 of those with actual recurrent disease (≥4 episodes) had been operated on, and three of every five children operated on, in fact, had rather few episodes. The operation rate among those children with only a few episodes was increased by factors such as consulting an ear, nose, and throat specialist (risk ratio [RR], 13.0; 95% confidence interval [CI], 7.6 to 22.2); parental exaggeration of the episodes (RR, 6.7; 95% CI, 3.8 to 11.9); having the first episode under 6 months of age (RR, 4.5; 95% CI, 2.5 to 7.9); recurrent respiratory tract infections (RR, 3.3; 95% CI, 1.9 to 5.7); male sex (RR, 2.6; 95% CI, 1.4 to 4.6); urban domicile (RR, 2.4; 95% CI, 1.1 to 4.9); and day care (RR, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.1 to 3.8). The decision to operate was more or less a random phenomenon among those children with numerous episodes.

Conclusions:  Physicians at the primary care level should be familiar with these pitfalls concerning patient selection so that the operations are targeted at those children who are most seriously ill.(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1994;120:807-811)

Add or change institution