Aural microsuction for wax impaction: survey of efficacy and patient perception

J Laryngol Otol. 2014 Jul;128(7):621-5. doi: 10.1017/S0022215114000796. Epub 2014 Jul 14.


Objective: Cerumen impaction is a common problem, and aural microsuction is a technique frequently employed for its management. This study aimed to quantify the patient perception, safety and efficacy of this procedure.

Methods: Patients were asked to complete a questionnaire following cerumen clearance by microsuction. The perceived severity of pain, noise-related discomfort and vertigo was scored on a scale of 1 to 10. Patients with mastoid cavities and those who had used a cerumenolytic agent in the preceding week were analysed separately.

Results: A total of 159 questionnaires were returned. Mean scores (95 per cent confidence intervals) were: pain, 2.34 (2.06-2.62); noise discomfort, 3.03 (2.71-3.35); and vertigo, 1.95 (1.66-2.25). There was successful clearance (i.e. sufficient to view the tympanic membrane) in 91 per cent of cases. Patients who had used cerumenolytics reported significantly less pain and vertigo (p = 0.008 and p < 0.001, respectively) compared with those who had not, whilst patients with mastoid cavities reported greater levels of vertigo (p < 0.001) than those without.

Conclusion: Aural microsuction is well tolerated. Side effects are mild, and the prior use of cerumenolytics appears to further reduce their severity.

MeSH terms

  • Cerumen*
  • Ear Canal
  • Ear Diseases / physiopathology
  • Ear Diseases / therapy*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Outpatients
  • Perceptual Masking / physiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Suction
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*