A Systematic Review of Eustachian Tube Procedures for Baro-challenge Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

Laryngoscope. 2022 Dec;132(12):2473-2483. doi: 10.1002/lary.30132. Epub 2022 Apr 20.


Objective: To examine the effectiveness of Eustachian tube procedures for the treatment of baro-challenge Eustachian tube dysfunction.

Methods: Following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, databases, including PubMed (National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health), Scopus (Elsevier), and CINAHL (EBSCO), were searched for articles examining the effectiveness of Eustachian tube procedures for baro-challenge Eustachian tube dysfunction. Outcome measures included symptom resolution, ability to return to work, equalization problems (EP) scores, Eustachian Tube Dysfunction Questionnaire (ETDQ-7) scores, and pressure chamber testing parameters. Pooled meta-analysis was performed for dichotomous measures and ETDQ-7 scores.

Results: Eleven articles with 81 patients were included. Seventy-two patients from 10 articles underwent balloon Eustachian tube dilation; nine patients in 1 study underwent laser Eustachian tuboplasty (LET). All 81 patients were preoperatively symptomatic with barometric pressure change, and 26/30 (86.7%) were unable to work due to symptoms. On meta-analysis, after balloon dilation Eustachian tuboplasty (BDET), 82.5% (n = 30 [95% confidence interval: 42%-100%]) had improvement in ability to valsalva, 79.1% (n = 16 [57.9%-94.1%]) in ability to return to work, and 84.3% (n = 69 [69.8%-94.7%]) in any symptom. Of 25 patients with individual ETDQ-7 scores, 79.1% [51.4, 96.9] had improvements after BDET. For four case series with 36 patients, ETDQ-7 scores decreased by 1.2 [0.7, 1.7] (p < 0.00001). Of 20 patients with preoperative ETDQ-7 scores >2.0, there was a mean decrease of 2.1 [1.3, 2.8] (p < 0.00001).

Conclusion: From the available evidence, Eustachian tube procedures appear to be effective at improving symptoms of baro-challenge Eustachian tube dysfunction. However, higher quality evidence is needed to support making definite recommendations for the use of balloon Eustachian tube dilation or LET for these patients. Laryngoscope, 132:2473-2483, 2022.

Keywords: Eustachian tube dilation; baro-challenge Eustachian tube dysfunction; evidence-based medicine.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Dilatation / methods
  • Ear Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Ear Diseases* / surgery
  • Eustachian Tube* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tympanoplasty