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Antibiotics versus topical antiseptics for chronic suppurative otitis media.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020 01 06; 1:CD013056.CD

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Chronic suppurative otitis media (CSOM), sometimes referred to as chronic otitis media (COM), is a chronic inflammation and infection of the middle ear and mastoid cavity, characterised by ear discharge (otorrhoea) through a perforated tympanic membrane. The predominant symptoms of CSOM are ear discharge and hearing loss. Antibiotics and antiseptics kill or inhibit the micro-organisms that may be responsible for the infection. Antibiotics can be applied topically or administered systemically via the oral or injection route. Antiseptics are always directly applied to the ear (topically).

OBJECTIVES

To assess the effectiveness of antibiotics versus antiseptics for people with chronic suppurative otitis media (CSOM).

SEARCH METHODS

The Cochrane ENT Information Specialist searched the Cochrane ENT Register; Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL; 2019, Issue 4, via the Cochrane Register of Studies); Ovid MEDLINE; Ovid Embase; CINAHL; Web of Science; ClinicalTrials.gov; ICTRP and additional sources for published and unpublished trials. The date of the search was 1 April 2019.

SELECTION CRITERIA

We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) with at least a one-week follow-up involving patients (adults and children) who had chronic ear discharge of unknown cause or CSOM, where ear discharge had continued for more than two weeks. The intervention was any single, or combination of, antibiotic agent, whether applied topically (without steroids) or systemically. The comparison was any single, or combination of, topical antiseptic agent, applied as ear drops, powders or irrigations, or as part of an aural toileting procedure. Two comparisons were topical antiseptics compared to: a) topical antibiotics or b) systemic antibiotics. Within each comparison we separated where both groups of patients had received topical antibiotic a) alone or with aural toilet and b) on top of background treatment (such as systemic antibiotics).

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS

We used the standard Cochrane methodological procedures. We used GRADE to assess the certainty of the evidence for each outcome. Our primary outcomes were: resolution of ear discharge or 'dry ear' (whether otoscopically confirmed or not), measured at between one week and up to two weeks, two weeks to up to four weeks, and after four weeks; health-related quality of life using a validated instrument; and ear pain (otalgia) or discomfort or local irritation. Secondary outcomes included hearing, serious complications and ototoxicity measured in several ways.

MAIN RESULTS

We identified seven studies (935 participants) across four comparisons with antibiotics compared against acetic acid, aluminium acetate, boric acid and povidone-iodine. None of the included studies reported the outcomes of quality of life or serious complications. A. Topical antiseptic (acetic acid) versus topical antibiotics (quinolones or aminoglycosides) It is very uncertain if there is a difference in resolution of ear discharge with acetic acid compared with aminoglycosides at one to two weeks (risk ratio (RR) 0.88, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.72 to 1.08; 1 study; 100 participants; very low-certainty evidence). No study reported results for ear discharge after four weeks. It was very uncertain if there was more ear pain, discomfort or local irritation with acetic acid or topical antibiotics due to the low numbers of participants reporting events (RR 0.16, 95% CI 0.02 to 1.34; 2 RCTs; 189 participants; very low-certainty evidence). No differences between groups were reported narratively for hearing (quinolones) or suspected ototoxicity (aminoglycosides) (very low-certainty evidence). B. Topical antiseptic (aluminium acetate) versus topical antibiotics No results for the one study comparing topical antibiotics with aluminium acetate could be used in the review. C. Topical antiseptic (boric acid) versus topical antibiotics (quinolones) One study reported more participants with resolution of ear discharge when using topical antibiotics (quinolones) compared with boric acid ear drops at between one to two weeks (risk ratio (RR) 1.56, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.27 to 1.92; 1 study; 409 participants; moderate-certainty evidence). This means that one additional person will have resolution of ear discharge for every five people receiving topical antibiotics (compared with boric acid) at two weeks. No study reported results for ear discharge after four weeks. There was a bigger improvement in hearing in the topical antibiotic group compared to the topical antiseptic group (mean difference (MD) 2.79 decibels (dB), 95% CI 0.48 to 5.10; 1 study; 390 participants; low-certainty evidence) but this difference may not be clinically significant. There may be more ear pain, discomfort or irritation with boric acid compared with quinolones (RR 0.56, 95% CI 0.32 to 0.98; 2 studies; 510 participants; low-certainty evidence). Suspected ototoxicity was not reported. D. Topical antiseptic (povidone-iodine) versus topical antibiotics (quinolones) It is uncertain if there is a difference between quinolones and povidone-iodine with respect to resolution of ear discharge at one to two weeks (RR 1.02, 95% CI 0.82 to 1.26; 1 RCT, 39 participants; very low-certainty evidence). The study reported qualitatively that there were no differences between the groups for hearing and no patients developed ototoxic effects (very low-certainty evidence). No results for resolution of ear discharge beyond four weeks, or ear pain, discomfort or irritation, were reported. E. Topical antiseptic (acetic acid) + aural toileting versus topical + systemic antibiotics (quinolones) One study reported that participants receiving topical and oral antibiotics had less resolution of ear discharge compared with acetic acid ear drops and aural toileting (suction clearance every two days) at one month (RR 0.69, 95% CI 0.53 to 0.90; 100 participants). The study did not report results for resolution of ear discharge at between one to two weeks, ear pain, discomfort or irritation, hearing or suspected ototoxicity.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS

Treatment of CSOM with topical antibiotics (quinolones) probably results in an increase in resolution of ear discharge compared with boric acid at up to two weeks. There was limited evidence for the efficacy of other topical antibiotics or topical antiseptics and so we are unable to draw conclusions. Adverse events were not well reported.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, University of Oxford, Cochrane ENT, UK Cochrane Centre, Summertown Pavilion, 18 - 24 Middle Way, Oxford, UK.Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, University of Oxford, Cochrane ENT, UK Cochrane Centre, Summertown Pavilion, 18 - 24 Middle Way, Oxford, UK.Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, Department of Otolaryngology, Eastern Road, Brighton, UK, BN2 5BE.Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University, Child Health Division, PO Box 41096, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, 0811.Perth Children's Hospital, Department of Otolaryngology, Perth, Australia. The University of Western Australia, School of Paediatrics and Child Health, Perth, Australia.Cochrane UK, Summertown Pavilion, 18 - 24 Middle Way, Oxford, UK, OX2 7LG.Faculty of Brain Sciences, University College London, evidENT, Ear Institute, 330 Grays Inn Road, London, UK, WC1X 8DA.Telethon Kids Institute, The University of Western Australia, 15 Hospital Avenue, Perth, Western Australia, Australia, 6009.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Meta-Analysis
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Systematic Review

Language

eng

PubMed ID

31902139

Citation

Head, Karen, et al. "Antibiotics Versus Topical Antiseptics for Chronic Suppurative Otitis Media." The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, vol. 1, 2020, p. CD013056.
Head K, Chong LY, Bhutta MF, et al. Antibiotics versus topical antiseptics for chronic suppurative otitis media. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020;1:CD013056.
Head, K., Chong, L. Y., Bhutta, M. F., Morris, P. S., Vijayasekaran, S., Burton, M. J., Schilder, A. G., & Brennan-Jones, C. G. (2020). Antibiotics versus topical antiseptics for chronic suppurative otitis media. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 1, CD013056. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD013056.pub2
Head K, et al. Antibiotics Versus Topical Antiseptics for Chronic Suppurative Otitis Media. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020 01 6;1:CD013056. PubMed PMID: 31902139.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Antibiotics versus topical antiseptics for chronic suppurative otitis media. AU - Head,Karen, AU - Chong,Lee-Yee, AU - Bhutta,Mahmood F, AU - Morris,Peter S, AU - Vijayasekaran,Shyan, AU - Burton,Martin J, AU - Schilder,Anne Gm, AU - Brennan-Jones,Christopher G, Y1 - 2020/01/06/ PY - 2020/1/6/entrez PY - 2020/1/7/pubmed PY - 2020/5/14/medline SP - CD013056 EP - CD013056 JF - The Cochrane database of systematic reviews JO - Cochrane Database Syst Rev VL - 1 N2 - BACKGROUND: Chronic suppurative otitis media (CSOM), sometimes referred to as chronic otitis media (COM), is a chronic inflammation and infection of the middle ear and mastoid cavity, characterised by ear discharge (otorrhoea) through a perforated tympanic membrane. The predominant symptoms of CSOM are ear discharge and hearing loss. Antibiotics and antiseptics kill or inhibit the micro-organisms that may be responsible for the infection. Antibiotics can be applied topically or administered systemically via the oral or injection route. Antiseptics are always directly applied to the ear (topically). OBJECTIVES: To assess the effectiveness of antibiotics versus antiseptics for people with chronic suppurative otitis media (CSOM). SEARCH METHODS: The Cochrane ENT Information Specialist searched the Cochrane ENT Register; Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL; 2019, Issue 4, via the Cochrane Register of Studies); Ovid MEDLINE; Ovid Embase; CINAHL; Web of Science; ClinicalTrials.gov; ICTRP and additional sources for published and unpublished trials. The date of the search was 1 April 2019. SELECTION CRITERIA: We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) with at least a one-week follow-up involving patients (adults and children) who had chronic ear discharge of unknown cause or CSOM, where ear discharge had continued for more than two weeks. The intervention was any single, or combination of, antibiotic agent, whether applied topically (without steroids) or systemically. The comparison was any single, or combination of, topical antiseptic agent, applied as ear drops, powders or irrigations, or as part of an aural toileting procedure. Two comparisons were topical antiseptics compared to: a) topical antibiotics or b) systemic antibiotics. Within each comparison we separated where both groups of patients had received topical antibiotic a) alone or with aural toilet and b) on top of background treatment (such as systemic antibiotics). DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: We used the standard Cochrane methodological procedures. We used GRADE to assess the certainty of the evidence for each outcome. Our primary outcomes were: resolution of ear discharge or 'dry ear' (whether otoscopically confirmed or not), measured at between one week and up to two weeks, two weeks to up to four weeks, and after four weeks; health-related quality of life using a validated instrument; and ear pain (otalgia) or discomfort or local irritation. Secondary outcomes included hearing, serious complications and ototoxicity measured in several ways. MAIN RESULTS: We identified seven studies (935 participants) across four comparisons with antibiotics compared against acetic acid, aluminium acetate, boric acid and povidone-iodine. None of the included studies reported the outcomes of quality of life or serious complications. A. Topical antiseptic (acetic acid) versus topical antibiotics (quinolones or aminoglycosides) It is very uncertain if there is a difference in resolution of ear discharge with acetic acid compared with aminoglycosides at one to two weeks (risk ratio (RR) 0.88, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.72 to 1.08; 1 study; 100 participants; very low-certainty evidence). No study reported results for ear discharge after four weeks. It was very uncertain if there was more ear pain, discomfort or local irritation with acetic acid or topical antibiotics due to the low numbers of participants reporting events (RR 0.16, 95% CI 0.02 to 1.34; 2 RCTs; 189 participants; very low-certainty evidence). No differences between groups were reported narratively for hearing (quinolones) or suspected ototoxicity (aminoglycosides) (very low-certainty evidence). B. Topical antiseptic (aluminium acetate) versus topical antibiotics No results for the one study comparing topical antibiotics with aluminium acetate could be used in the review. C. Topical antiseptic (boric acid) versus topical antibiotics (quinolones) One study reported more participants with resolution of ear discharge when using topical antibiotics (quinolones) compared with boric acid ear drops at between one to two weeks (risk ratio (RR) 1.56, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.27 to 1.92; 1 study; 409 participants; moderate-certainty evidence). This means that one additional person will have resolution of ear discharge for every five people receiving topical antibiotics (compared with boric acid) at two weeks. No study reported results for ear discharge after four weeks. There was a bigger improvement in hearing in the topical antibiotic group compared to the topical antiseptic group (mean difference (MD) 2.79 decibels (dB), 95% CI 0.48 to 5.10; 1 study; 390 participants; low-certainty evidence) but this difference may not be clinically significant. There may be more ear pain, discomfort or irritation with boric acid compared with quinolones (RR 0.56, 95% CI 0.32 to 0.98; 2 studies; 510 participants; low-certainty evidence). Suspected ototoxicity was not reported. D. Topical antiseptic (povidone-iodine) versus topical antibiotics (quinolones) It is uncertain if there is a difference between quinolones and povidone-iodine with respect to resolution of ear discharge at one to two weeks (RR 1.02, 95% CI 0.82 to 1.26; 1 RCT, 39 participants; very low-certainty evidence). The study reported qualitatively that there were no differences between the groups for hearing and no patients developed ototoxic effects (very low-certainty evidence). No results for resolution of ear discharge beyond four weeks, or ear pain, discomfort or irritation, were reported. E. Topical antiseptic (acetic acid) + aural toileting versus topical + systemic antibiotics (quinolones) One study reported that participants receiving topical and oral antibiotics had less resolution of ear discharge compared with acetic acid ear drops and aural toileting (suction clearance every two days) at one month (RR 0.69, 95% CI 0.53 to 0.90; 100 participants). The study did not report results for resolution of ear discharge at between one to two weeks, ear pain, discomfort or irritation, hearing or suspected ototoxicity. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Treatment of CSOM with topical antibiotics (quinolones) probably results in an increase in resolution of ear discharge compared with boric acid at up to two weeks. There was limited evidence for the efficacy of other topical antibiotics or topical antiseptics and so we are unable to draw conclusions. Adverse events were not well reported. SN - 1469-493X UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/31902139/Antibiotics_versus_topical_antiseptics_for_chronic_suppurative_otitis_media_ L2 - https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD013056.pub2 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -