Acute paediatric mastoiditis in the UK before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: A national observational study

Clin Otolaryngol. 2022 Jan;47(1):120-130. doi: 10.1111/coa.13869. Epub 2021 Nov 3.


Objectives: To explore the impact of COVID-19 on the management and outcomes of acute paediatric mastoiditis across the UK.

Design: National retrospective and prospective audit.

Setting: 48 UK secondary care ENT departments.

Participants: Consecutive children aged 18 years or under, referred to ENT with a clinical diagnosis of mastoiditis.

Main outcome measures: Cases were divided into Period 1 (01/11/19-15/03/20), before the UK population were instructed to reduce social contact, and Period 2 (16/03/20-30/04/21), following this. Periods 1 and 2 were compared for population variables, management and outcomes. Secondary analyses compared outcomes by primary treatment (medical/needle aspiration/surgical).

Results: 286 cases met criteria (median 4 per site, range 0-24). 9.4 cases were recorded per week in period 1 versus 2.0 in period 2, with no winter increase in cases in December 2020-Febraury 2021. Patient age differed between periods 1 and 2 (3.2 vs 4.7 years respectively, p < 0.001). 85% of children in period 2 were tested for COVID-19 with a single positive test. In period, 2 cases associated with P. aeruginosa significantly increased. 48.6% of children were scanned in period 1 vs 41.1% in period 2. Surgical management was used more frequently in period 1 (43.0% vs 24.3%, p = 0.001). Treatment success was high, with failure of initial management in 6.3%, and 30-day re-admission for recurrence in 2.1%. The adverse event rate (15.7% overall) did not vary by treatment modality or between periods 1& 2.

Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic led to a significant change in the presentation and case mix of acute paediatric mastoiditis in the UK.

Keywords: COVID; acute mastoiditis; antibiotic; paediatric; surgery.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mastoiditis / epidemiology*
  • Pandemics
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Seasons
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology