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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy: effect on middle ear and eustachian tube function.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO) involves intermittent inhalation of 100% oxygen under a pressure greater than 1 atm. It is an important mode of adjuvant therapy for disease processes such as decompression sickness, osteomyelitis, carbon monoxide poisoning, and poorly healing wounds. Patients undergoing this therapy often complain of ear pain and/or fullness which can be transient or long standing. This prospective study objectively measured the changes in eustachian tube function before and after HBO treatment in 33 adult patients by the 9-step inflation-deflation test described by Bluestone. The results show 15 of the 33 patients (45%) had evidence of eustachian tube dysfunction after treatment was initiated. Of these, 15 (100%) developed the sensation of fullness, 13 (87%) developed serous otitis media, and 7 (47%) required tympanostomy tubes. The overall incidence of middle ear problems was 27 patients (82%) experiencing a sensation of fullness, 17 (52%) developing serous otitis media, and 8 (24%) requiring tympanostomy tubes. The middle ear complications reported in this study are much higher than those in previous reports in the literature. Twelve of 33 patients presented with a subjective history of eustachian tube dysfunction, and all 12 (100%) developed fullness in their ears and serous otitis media during the course of the treatment. The findings reveal that patients manifesting eustachian tube dysfunction after their first HBO treatment were at significantly greater risk toward developing symptoms of fullness and serous otitis media, often requiring tympanostomy tube placement. In addition, a history of eustachian tube dysfunction accurately predicted the development of fullness and serous otitis media.[1]


  1. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy: effect on middle ear and eustachian tube function. Fernau, J.L., Hirsch, B.E., Derkay, C., Ramasastry, S., Schaefer, S.E. Laryngoscope (1992) [Pubmed]
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