Objective: Compare Eustachian tube balloon dilation versus continued medical therapy (control) for treating persistent Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD).
Study design: Prospective, multicenter, randomized controlled trial.
Setting: Tertiary care academic center and private practice.
Patients: Diagnosed with medically refractory persistent ETD.
Interventions: 1:1 Randomization to balloon dilation or control. After 6 weeks, control participants had the option to undergo balloon dilation if symptoms persisted.
Main outcome measures: Primary efficacy endpoint was the comparison between treatment arms in the mean change from baseline in the 7-item Eustachian Tube Dysfunction Questionnaire (ETDQ-7) score. Primary safety endpoint was complication rate.
Results: Sixty participants were randomized (31 balloon dilation, 29 control). Mean (SD) change in overall ETDQ-7 score at 6 weeks was -2.9 (1.4) for balloon dilation compared with -0.6 (1.0) for control: balloon dilation was superior to control (p < 0.0001). No complications were reported in either study arm. Among participants with abnormal baseline assessments, improvements in tympanogram type (p < 0.006) and tympanic membrane position (p < 0.001) were significantly better for balloon dilation than control. Technical success was 100% (91 successful dilations/91 attempts) and most procedures (72%) were completed in the office under local anesthesia. Improvements in the ETDQ-7 scores were maintained through 12 months after balloon dilation.
Conclusions: Balloon dilation is a safe and effective treatment for persistent ETD. Based on improved ETDQ-7 scores, balloon dilation is superior to continued medical management for persistent ETD. Symptom improvement is durable through a minimum of 12 months. Procedures are well tolerated in the office setting under local anesthesia.