Conservative management of acute mastoiditis in children

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2011 Apr;137(4):346-50. doi: 10.1001/archoto.2011.29.


Objective: To determine whether treatment of acute mastoiditis in children using antibiotics combined with retroauricular puncture and grommet insertion is effective compared with "standard management" with mastoidectomy.

Design: Retrospective study.

Setting: Tertiary pediatric center.

Patients: We identified 50 patients younger than 14 years with acute mastoiditis (mean age, 32 months). Individuals with subacute mastoiditis and cholesteatoma were excluded from this study. All the children had received antibiotic drug treatment. Before 2002, a subperiosteal abscess (SA) was managed by mastoidectomy. Beginning in 2002, however, conservative management was initially attempted to avoid mastoidectomy.

Main outcome measure: The proportion of cured children after conservative management of SA in acute mastoiditis.

Results: Acute mastoiditis occurred in 30 patients already treated with antibiotics before hospital admission. On examination, 1 child had facial palsy. All the patients except 1 (who had temporozygomatic swelling) had postauricular swelling. Myringotomy or retroauricular puncture isolated bacteria in 38 patients. Streptococcus pneumoniae was identified in 28 patients. Computed tomography (43 patients) diagnosed 31 SAs, including 3 cases of sigmoid sinus thrombosis and 1 subdural abscess. All the children were cured without complications regardless of the type of treatment. Comparing the periods before and after 2002, the number of SAs was similar (15 and 16, respectively), but the number of mastoidectomies was reduced (16 and 1, respectively). The hospital length of stay of patients who underwent aspiration was shorter than that of patients who underwent cortical mastoidectomy.

Conclusion: Antibiotic drug use combined with retroauricular puncture and grommet insertion is an effective alternative to mastoidectomy in the treatment of acute mastoiditis with SA in children.

MeSH terms

  • Abscess / diagnostic imaging
  • Abscess / microbiology
  • Abscess / therapy*
  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • France
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Mastoiditis / diagnostic imaging
  • Mastoiditis / microbiology
  • Mastoiditis / therapy*
  • Middle Ear Ventilation*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, Spiral Computed
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents