Acute mastoiditis in children: presentation and long term consequences

J Laryngol Otol. 2008 Mar;122(3):233-7. doi: 10.1017/S0022215107009929. Epub 2007 Jul 19.


Acute mastoiditis, a destructive bacterial infection of the mastoid bone and air cell system, is relatively uncommon today but remains a potentially serious condition. There is a lack of information in the literature regarding the long term otological problems that children may face following an episode of this condition.

Objectives: Our aim was to examine the presentation, complications and hospital course in this patient population, and to ascertain whether these patients had long term otological problems.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of all patients presenting with acute mastoiditis between January 1990 and December 2005. Patients' parents were contacted by telephone and questioned about further otological problems.

Results: Twenty-nine patients were included in the study, and 27 of these patients' parents were contactable to complete the telephone questionnaire. Sixty-nine per cent of children had no previous history of acute otitis media prior to presentation. Forty-five per cent of patients had received oral antibiotics prior to presentation. Sixty-two per cent of patients developed complications, i.e. a subperiosteal abscess or failure to respond to medical therapy, resulting in the need for surgical intervention (in the form of incision and drainage of periosteal abscess, cortical mastoidectomy, or grommet insertion). Mean follow up of patients was eight years and one month; five (17 per cent) patients had been followed up for less than one year. Two (7 per cent) patients developed a further episode of mastoiditis within six weeks of initial presentation, both of whom required cortical mastoidectomy. Three (10 per cent) patients had further problems with recurrent acute otitis media, requiring tympanostomy tube insertion. One patient required a modified radical mastoidectomy for cholesteatoma (15 years later). Twenty-two patients (91 per cent) had been followed up for longer than one year; these patients had subjectively normal hearing and were asymptomatic at the time of study.

Conclusion: The majority of patients who had suffered an episode of acute mastoiditis had no adverse long term otological sequelae.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mastoiditis / diagnostic imaging
  • Mastoiditis / drug therapy*
  • Mastoiditis / surgery
  • Otitis Media / complications
  • Otitis Media / drug therapy
  • Prognosis
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome