This pilot project studied 61 children with chronic otitis media with effusion. The 12-month period prior to ventilation tube surgery was compared with the 12 months after surgery with respect to numbers of health care visits, the use of antibiotics, parental perceptions of hearing and speech problems, and other selected parameters. Significant decreases were found in total health care visits (mean decrease: 6.18 visits, P less than 0.001). Ear-related health care visits also decreased significantly (mean decrease = 10.93, P less than 0.001). Total health care visits correlated strongly with visits for ear problems both before and after surgery (r = 0.4474, P less than 0.001). Usage of antibiotics significantly decreased. Parental reports concerning the issues of secondary speech and hearing problems raised questions for additional study. In addition, the qualitative comments offered by parents suggest the breadth of impact of chronic otitis media with effusion in this patient population, and point the direction for future research.