Background: Ear infections can be caused by either bacteria or viruses and often involve fluid accumulation in the middle ear. Chronic ear infections can cause hearing loss and other serious complications if left untreated. Middle ear infections may resolve on their own without treatment, however, this is not always the case. Infections that do not resolve on their own are often treated with antibiotics, placement of tympanostomy tubes, and/or other methods in order to resolve the infection and inflammation in the ear and the surrounding tissues, including the eustachian tubes (ET).
During an illness, specifically an upper respiratory illness such as a cold or flu, the tissues lining the eustachian tube may swell impeding or blocking the drainage of serous fluid that settles in the middle ear. Over time the trapped fluid may result in a middle ear infection. Ear infections with effusion, if left untreated can lead to tympanic membrane perforation, advancing infection to surrounding tissues and bone, and damage to the ossicles of the middle ear resulting in various levels of hearing loss.
Objectives: The purpose of this research is to evaluate the effectiveness of cartilage-cuffed tympanostomy tubes when used for 1) the treatment of chronic middle ear disease in patients with a diagnosed eustachian tube dysfunction. It is generally accepted that T-tube placement is an affordable and easily reproducible surgical technique that offers significant benefit for a select group of patients