Purpose: To document the incidence of complications after myringotomy and grommet insertion in patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma. The focus is on the incidence of otorrhea and perforation. The possible risk factors for these conditions and treatment response were studied.
Materials and methods: We reviewed the records on 206 ears of 163 patients who suffered from nasopharyngeal carcinoma and underwent myringotomy and grommet insertion in a 7-year period. The follow-up period ranged from 4 weeks to 78 months (median, 9 months).
Results: The overall incidence of otorrhea in these ears was 38%. Patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) had a significantly high incidence of postoperative discharge (chi2 test, P<.0001) compared with other patients who underwent myringotomy and grommet insertion. The mean interval between myringotomy and otorrhea was 19.8 weeks. Forty-seven per cent of the ears with a discharge developed otorrhea within 1 month. In 42%, the otorrhea responded to treatment and the ears became dry. After extrusion of the grommet, 29% of those ears with otorrhea ended with an eardrum perforation, and 24% of the ears showed recurrent effusion.
Conclusions: For patients with NPC who underwent myringotomy, there was a significant risk of otorrhea (49%) and persistent perforation (29%), and these complications were difficult to manage. We conclude that myringotomy and grommet insertion should not be routinely offered to NPC patients with middle ear effusion.