Objective: To describe the characteristics, diagnostics, treatment, and outcome of severe acute otitis media (AOM) and acute mastoiditis (AM) caused by group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus (GAS).
Study design: A retrospective cohort study.
Methods: The yearly incidence of inpatient care-needing GAS AOM/AM patients in our hospital catchment area between 2002 and 2018 was investigated. A detailed analysis was performed for cases treated during the last GAS epidemic in 2017-2018. Anamnesis, signs and symptoms, pure-tone audiometry results, treatment, complications, and outcome were collected from medical charts. Patients responded to an otology-specific health-related quality of life survey (EOS-16) 1.5 to 3 years after their treatment.
Results: The number of GAS infections peaks at approximately 7-year intervals. During 2017 and 2018, altogether 37 patients (29 adults and 8 children) were hospitalized due to GAS AOM/AM. AM was diagnosed in 14 (38%) patients. The disease progression was typically very rapid. At presentation, all patients had severe ear pain, 68% tympanic membrane perforation and discharge, 43% fever, and 43% vertigo. In pure-tone audiometry, there was usually a marked mixed hearing loss at presentation. There was a significant recovery in both air and bone conduction thresholds; the pure tone average improvement from presentation was 32.3 ± 14.8 dB. Rapid strep tests (RST) proved to be more sensitive than bacterial culture in identifying GAS as a cause of AOM/AM.
Conclusion: GAS AOM/AM has a rapid onset. Hearing loss usually includes a sensorineural component, which is usually reversible with adequate treatment. RST seems to be useful in detecting GAS from middle ear discharge.
Level of evidence: 4.
Keywords: Streptococcus pyogenes; acute mastoiditis; acute otitis media; group A beta‐hemolytic streptococcus; health‐related quality of life.
© 2021 The Authors. Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of The Triological Society.