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Introduction: Posttympanostomy tube otorrhea also known as acute otitis media with tympanostomy tubes (AOMT) occurs in 15% to 80% of children with tympanostomy tubes. Its management is fairly standardized among pediatric ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physicians owing to recommendations published by the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. Pediatric emergency medicine (EM) physicians have no such guidelines.

Objective: This study aimed to compare management of AOMT by pediatric ENT and EM physicians.

Methods: A 27-question online survey was disseminated via SurveyMonkey.com using e-mail addresses of ENT and EM physicians via organization directories and professional listserves.

Results: A total of 175 and 174 responses were received from EM and ENT physicians, respectively. Higher proportion of EM physicians used oral antibiotics to treat AOMT (54% [n = 94] vs 9% [n = 16], P < 0.001). Virtually all ENT physicians used topical antibiotics, compared with 87% of EM physicians. Only 6% (n = 10) of EM physicians used suction to clean ear canals (aural toilet) before instilling topical antibiotics, compared with 81% (n = 138) of ENT physicians. Most ENT physicians (80% [n = 138]) instructed patients to keep the treated ear up for 10 to 60 seconds after instilling the drops and to use the tragal pump technique to direct the medication down the ear canal and through the tube (92% [n = 157]). Only 56% (n = 98) and 24% (n = 41) of EM physicians did the same.

Conclusions: There are large differences between ENT and EM physicians with respect to: the use of systemic antibiotics, techniques of using ototopical antibiotics, methods of aural toilet in treating AOMT, and directions given to patients.

(C) 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.