Ventilation tube treatment: a systematic review of the literature

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2011 Sep;145(3):383-95. doi: 10.1177/0194599811409862. Epub 2011 Jun 1.


Objective: The aim of this review was to study the effectiveness of ventilation tube (VT) treatment in children with secretory otitis media (SOM), assessed by improved hearing, normalized language and quality of life (QoL), and recurrent acute otitis media (rAOM), assessed by number of episodes of AOM and QoL. Data Sources. Cochrane Library, PubMed, and Embase databases were searched for randomized and nonrandomized controlled trials and cohort studies in English, Scandinavian, German, and French languages between 1966 and April 2007. Additional literature was retrieved from reference lists in the articles.

Review methods: A total of 493 abstracts were evaluated independently by 2 members of the project group, 247 full-text versions were assessed for inclusion criteria and quality using structured evaluation forms, and 63 articles were included in the review.

Results and conclusions: This review shows that there is strong scientific evidence (grade 1) that VT treatment of SOM improves hearing for at least 9 months and that QoL is improved for up to 9 months (grade 2 scientific evidence). There was insufficient evidence to support an effect of VT treatment for rAOM. There was also insufficient evidence to determine whether the design or material of the VT or the procedure used for insertion had any influence on the effect; however, there was some evidence (grade 3) that aspiration of secretion at insertion does not prolong VT treatment. Further research is needed to address these issues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenoidectomy / methods
  • Audiometry / methods
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hearing Loss / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Language Development
  • Male
  • Middle Ear Ventilation / methods*
  • Otitis Media with Effusion / diagnosis
  • Otitis Media with Effusion / surgery*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Recurrence
  • Reoperation / methods
  • Risk Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome