No Benefit to Tubes Over Antibiotics for Ear Infections

Alejandro Hoberman, MDThere is no long-term benefit to surgically placing tympanostomy tubes in a young child’s ears to reduce the rate of recurrent ear infections during the ensuing two years compared with giving oral antibiotics to treat ear infections, a randomized trial led by University of Pittsburgh pediatrician-scientists determined. 

The trial results, published May 12 in the New England Journal of Medicine, are among the first since the pneumococcal vaccine was added to pediatric vaccination schedules, providing updated evidence that may help shape pediatric guidelines on treating recurrent ear infections. Importantly, despite their greater use of antibiotics, the trial found no evidence of increased bacterial resistance among children in the medical-management group. 

This trial was led by Alejandro Hoberman, MD, director of the Division of General Academic Pediatrics and the Jack L. Paradise Endowed Professor of Pediatric Research at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

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