Fashion, science and technical change: the history of the treatment of glue ear

Clin Otolaryngol Allied Sci. 1985 Feb;10(1):31-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2273.1985.tb01162.x.


One reason for the current epidemic in the rate of surgery for glue ear in children is that a shift in treatment has taken place from non-surgical to surgical methods. An historical review of the treatment of this condition reveals the existence of previous 'surgical epidemics' and the importance of two particular factors-technical developments, such as the design of tympanostomy tubes and the introduction of antibacterial drugs; and the lure of panaceas such as ionizing radiation. In addition, it reveals how medical practice is, like most human behaviour, subject to fashion. Despite this, there is a constant desire by practitioners to be adjudged 'scientific' in their work, and definitions of science are equally susceptible to change over time.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • England
  • Europe
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Middle Ear Ventilation / history*
  • Otitis Media / history*
  • Otitis Media with Effusion / history*
  • Otitis Media with Effusion / radiotherapy
  • Otitis Media with Effusion / surgery
  • Otitis Media with Effusion / therapy
  • Radiotherapy / history
  • Tympanic Membrane / surgery
  • United States