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Long-term Effects of Chronic Otitis Media on Binaural Hearing in Children

Joseph W. Hall III, PhD; John H. Grose, PhD; Harold C. Pillsbury, MD
Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1995;121(8):847-852. doi:10.1001/archotol.1995.01890080017003.
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Objective:  To determine the long-term effect of otitis media with effusion (OME) on binaural hearing in children.

Design:  Longitudinal testing over a 4-year period following insertion of tympanic membrane grommets, employing clinical and normal control groups.

Subjects:  Twenty-two children with a history of OME were tested before insertion of grommets and at 3 months and 1 year after surgery; 14, 11, and 8 of the children were followed up for 2, 3, and 4 years after surgery, respectively. An age-matched control group of 40 children was tested.

Methods:  The masking-level difference (MLD) paradigm was used to measure the ability of the binaural auditory system to aid the detection of a pure-tone signal presented in a random masking noise.

Results:  Although the results indicated a significant improvement in the MLD with increasing time after middle ear surgery, the MLD remained significantly reduced even 2 years after hearing threshold correction. The MLDs of the OME group did not differ significantly from those of the control group when tested 3 years after middle ear surgery, even though a small proportion of subjects with a history of OME continued to have MLDs smaller than normal limits.

Conclusion:  In general, the results suggest a slow recovery of binaural function in children with OME after restoration of normal hearing thresholds.(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1995;121:847-852)


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