The otitis media with effusion is a very common condition during childhood: 90% of children have at least one episode in the first ten years of life. Most resolve spontaneously in the first three months, but between 5 and 10% last more than a year and between 30 and 40% of children have recurrent episodes. In this systematic review the effectiveness of the various options for surgical treatment of otitis media with effusion at any age is examined.
This is a systematic review that meets five clinical questions. Population and interventions under study are properly defined and the clinical questions are well constructed. However there is a risk of selection bias because they analyze only articles in English and the search is not exhaustive.
If you compare expectant attitude versus myringotomy, there is strong evidence that tympanostomy tubes decrease effusion (32% in one year and 13% at two years) and produce improvement in hearing (10 decibel 4-6 months) but does not affect language development in the longer term. Children with otitis media with bilateral effusion lasting three or more months and documented hearing loss, are the group of patients where we should consider surgical treatment with tympanostomy tubes.