A double-blind, randomized, prospective trial of a topical antiseptic versus a topical antibiotic in the treatment of otorrhoea

Clin Otolaryngol Allied Sci. 1990 Feb;15(1):7-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2273.1990.tb00425.x.


The clinical efficacy was assessed of a topical antiseptic (aluminium acetate) and a topical antibiotic (gentamicin sulphate) for the initial treatment of otorrhoea. Evidence of resistant organisms developing to either treatments after 9 and 21 days was also examined. 139 affected ears were entered into the trial and of these, 102 (74%) completed the study. Improvement in the otorrhoea occurred in 68% of ears treated with gentamicin and 67% of ears treated with aluminium acetate, with no significant difference between the two treatments. No resistant organisms to aluminium acetate were encountered. Twelve gentamicin-treated ears had gentamicin-resistant organisms at presentation and one patient developed a gentamicin-resistant Pseudomonas during treatment. We therefore recommend a topical antiseptic such as aluminium acetate rather than a topical antibiotic in the initial treatment of otorrhoea on the grounds of cost, avoidance of resistance and toxicity.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acetates / administration & dosage
  • Acetates / therapeutic use*
  • Administration, Topical
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Otorrhea / complications
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Otorrhea / drug therapy*
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Otorrhea / microbiology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial
  • Female
  • Gentamicins / administration & dosage
  • Gentamicins / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Otitis Externa / complications
  • Otitis Externa / drug therapy*
  • Otitis Externa / microbiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Random Allocation


  • Acetates
  • Gentamicins
  • aluminum acetate