Autoinflation: historical highlights and clinical implications

Ear Nose Throat J. 1998 Sep;77(9):737, 740-2.


In 1563, Eustachius first described the tube that came to be named for him. In 1704, Valsalva described the maneuver that bears his name, and in 1836 Deleau became one of the first to advocate infusion of pure air through the eustachian tube using a catheter. Politzer devised his own method for actively inflating the middle ear without using a catheter in 1863. Most modern studies examining the use of autoinflation in the treatment of secretory otitis media have shown a beneficial effect, with effusion being cleared in 52 to 62% of ears up to nine months after the treatment. In two studies, no effect of autoinflation could be demonstrated, and in one publication the autoinflation group had deteriorated compared to the control group. In light of the fact that secretory otitis media is a benign and transient condition, that treatment with antibiotics or insertion of ventilation tubes is not without problems, and that the chance of improving the condition by autoinflation is approximately 50%, it is concluded that autoinflation should be considered first-line treatment, before antibiotic or surgical treatment is planned.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Eustachian Tube*
  • History, 16th Century
  • History, 17th Century
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Middle Ear Ventilation / history*
  • Middle Ear Ventilation / methods
  • Otitis Media with Effusion / history
  • Otitis Media with Effusion / therapy
  • Self Care