Clinical Practice Guideline: Tympanostomy Tubes in Children (Update)
Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery
OBJECTIVE: Insertion of tympanostomy tubes is the most common ambulatory surgery performed on children in the United States. Tympanostomy tubes are most often inserted because of persistent middle ear fluid, frequent ear infections, or ear infections that persist after antibiotic therapy. All these conditions are encompassed by the term (middle ear inflammation). This guideline update provides evidence-based recommendations for patient selection and surgical indications for managing tympanostomy tubes in children. The guideline is intended for any clinician involved in managing children aged 6 months to 12 years with tympanostomy tubes or children being considered for tympanostomy tubes in any care setting as an intervention for otitis media of any type. The target audience includes specialists, primary care clinicians, and allied health professionals. PURPOSE: The purpose of this clinical practice guideline update is to reassess and update recommendations in the prior guideline from 2013 and to provide clinicians with trustworthy, evidence-based recommendations on patient selection and surgical indications for managing tympanostomy tubes in children. In planning the content of the updated guideline, the guideline update group (GUG) affirmed and included all the original key action statements (KASs), based on external review and GUG assessment of the original recommendations. The guideline update was supplemented with new research evidence and expanded profiles that addressed quality improvement and implementation issues. The group also discussed and prioritized the need for new recommendations based on gaps in the initial guideline or new evidence that would warrant and support KASs. The GUG further sought to bring greater coherence to the guideline recommendations by displaying relationships in a new flowchart to facilitate clinical decision making. Last, knowledge gaps were identified to guide future research. METHODS: In developing this update, the methods outlined in the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation's "Clinical Practice Guideline Development Manual, Third Edition: A Quality-Driven Approach for Translating Evidence Into Action" were followed explicitly. The GUG was convened with representation from the disciplines of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, otology, pediatrics, audiology, anesthesiology, family medicine, advanced practice nursing, speech-language pathology, and consumer advocacy. ACTION STATEMENTS: The GUG made for the following KASs: (14) clinicians should prescribe topical antibiotic ear drops only, without oral antibiotics, for children with uncomplicated acute tympanostomy tube otorrhea; (16) the surgeon or designee should examine the ears of a child within 3 months of tympanostomy tube insertion AND should educate families regarding the need for routine, periodic follow-up to examine the ears until the tubes extrude.The GUG made for the following KASs: (1) clinicians should not perform tympanostomy tube insertion in children with a single episode of otitis media with effusion (OME) of less than 3 months' duration, from the date of onset (if known) or from the date of diagnosis (if onset is unknown); (2) clinicians should obtain a hearing evaluation if OME persists for 3 months or longer OR prior to surgery when a child becomes a candidate for tympanostomy tube insertion; (3) clinicians should offer bilateral tympanostomy tube insertion to children with bilateral OME for 3 months or longer AND documented hearing difficulties; (5) clinicians should reevaluate, at 3- to 6-month intervals, children with chronic OME who do not receive tympanostomy tubes, until the effusion is no longer present, significant hearing loss is detected, or structural abnormalities of the tympanic membrane or middle ear are suspected; (6) clinicians should not perform tympanostomy tube insertion in children with recurrent acute otitis media who do not have middle ear effusion in either ear at the time of assessment for tube candidacy; (7) clinicians should offer bilateral tympanostomy tube insertion in children with recurrent acute otitis media who have unilateral or bilateral middle ear effusion at the time of assessment for tube candidacy; (8) clinicians should determine if a child with recurrent acute otitis media or with OME of any duration is at increased risk for speech, language, or learning problems from otitis media because of baseline sensory, physical, cognitive, or behavioral factors; (10) the clinician should not place long-term tubes as initial surgery for children who meet criteria for tube insertion unless there is a specific reason based on an anticipated need for prolonged middle ear ventilation beyond that of a short-term tube; (12) in the perioperative period, clinicians should educate caregivers of children with tympanostomy tubes regarding the expected duration of tube function, recommended follow-up schedule, and detection of complications; (13) clinicians should not routinely prescribe postoperative antibiotic ear drops after tympanostomy tube placement; (15) clinicians should not encourage routine, prophylactic water precautions (use of earplugs or headbands, avoidance of swimming or water sports) for children with tympanostomy tubes.The GUG offered the following KASs as : (4) clinicians may perform tympanostomy tube insertion in children with unilateral or bilateral OME for 3 months or longer (chronic OME) AND symptoms that are likely attributable, all or in part, to OME that include, but are not limited to, balance (vestibular) problems, poor school performance, behavioral problems, ear discomfort, or reduced quality of life; (9) clinicians may perform tympanostomy tube insertion in at-risk children with unilateral or bilateral OME that is likely to persist as reflected by a type B (flat) tympanogram or a documented effusion for 3 months or longer; (11) clinicians may perform adenoidectomy as an adjunct to tympanostomy tube insertion for children with symptoms directly related to the adenoids (adenoid infection or nasal obstruction) OR in children aged 4 years or older to potentially reduce future incidence of recurrent otitis media or the need for repeat tube insertion.
Rosenfeld, R. M., Tunkel, D. E., Schwartz, S. R., Anne, S., Bishop, C. E., Chelius, D. C., Hackell, J., Hunter, L. L., Keppel, K. L., Kim, A. H., Kim, T. W., Levine, J. M., Maksimoski, M. T., Moore, D. J., Preciado, D. A., Raol, N. P., Vaughan, W. K., Walker, E. A., & Monjur, T. M. (2022). Clinical Practice Guideline: Tympanostomy Tubes in Children (Update). Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery, 166 (1_suppl), S1-S55. https://doi.org/10.1177/01945998211065662