Background: Otitis media is the most common medical problem in young children. The usual surgical treatment is myringotomy with insertion of tympanostomy tubes. There is debate about the usefulness of concomitant adenoidectomy or adenotonsillectomy. We examined the effects of these adjuvant procedures on the rates of reinsertion of tympanostomy tubes and rehospitalization for conditions related to otitis media.
Methods: Using hospital discharge records for the period 1995 through 1997, we examined the results of surgery for all 37,316 children (defined as persons 19 years of age or younger) in Ontario, Canada, who received tympanostomy tubes as their first surgical treatment for otitis media. We determined the time to the first readmission for conditions related to otitis media and the time to the first reinsertion of tympanostomy tubes.
Results: As compared with treatment involving the insertion of tympanostomy tubes alone, adjuvant adenoidectomy was associated with a reduction in the likelihood of reinsertion of tympanostomy tubes (relative risk, 0.5; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.5 to 0.6; P<0.001) and the likelihood of readmission for conditions related to otitis media (relative risk, 0.5; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.5 to 0.6; P<0.001). The risk of these outcomes was further reduced if an adjuvant adenotonsillectomy was performed. The effect was age-related. Children as young as one year appeared to benefit from adjuvant adenotonsillectomy; the benefit of an adjuvant adenoidectomy was apparent in two-year-olds and was greatest for children three years of age or older.
Conclusions: Performing an adenoidectomy at the time of the initial insertion of tympanostomy tubes substantially reduces the likelihood of additional hospitalizations and operations related to otitis media among children two years of age or older.