Background — Ear (tympanostomy) tube (TT) placement is a common ambulatory surgery in children. Despite the commonality of this treatment, the long-term effects are unknown. The objective of this study was to determine the rate of permanent hearing loss, as measured by use of a rehabilitative hearing device.
Methods — A retrospective comprehensive population-based cohort study was performed, evaluating all hospitals in the Canadian province of Ontario. Three cohorts of children were constructed: TT – at least one ear tube procedure (n = 193,880), No-TT –recurrent visits to a physician for middle ear disease, did not undergo ear tubes (n = 203,283), and Control – an age/sex matched group who had not undergone ear tubes and who didn’t have repeat physician visits for middle ear disease (n = 961,168). The main outcome measures were risk and odds ratio (OR) of rehabilitative hearing devices.
Results — The TT cohort had a higher risk of obtaining a hearing aid (OR 4.53 vs. No-TT, p < 0.001; OR 10.81 vs. Control, p < 0.001), an FM system (OR 3.84 vs. No-TT, p < 0.001; OR 15.13 vs. Control, p < 0.001), and an implanted bone conduction device (OR 5.08 vs. No-TT, p < 0.001; OR 15.67 vs. Control, p < 0.001).
Conclusions — An association between ear tube placement and long-term need for a rehabilitative hearing device was found. This association warrants future prospective research in this area.
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