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Can general practitioners do the follow-ups after surgery with ventilation tubes in the tympanic membrane? Two years audiological data

Bjarne Austad12*, Irene Hetlevik1, Vegard Bugten34, Siri Wennberg4, Anita Helene Olsen4 and Anne-Sofie Helvik14

Author Affiliations

1 General Practice Research Unit, Department of Public Health and General Practice, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), PO Box 8905, 7491 Trondheim, Norway

2 Sjøsiden Medical Centre, Trondheim, Norway

3 Department of Neuromedicine, Faculty of Medicine, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway

4 Department of Ear, Nose and Throat, Head and Neck Surgery, St. Olavs Hospital, Trondheim, Norway

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BMC Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders 2014, 14:2  doi:10.1186/1472-6815-14-2

Published: 5 April 2014



A university hospital in Mid-Norway has modified their guidelines for follow-up after insertion of ventilation tubes (VTs) in the tympanic membrane, transferring the controls of the healthiest children to general practitioners (GPs). The aim of this study was to evaluate the implementation of these guidelines by exploring audiological outcome and subjective hearing complaints two years after surgery, assessing if follow-ups in general practice resulted in poorer outcome.


A retrospective observational study was performed at the university hospital and in general practice in Mid-Norway. Children below 18 years who underwent surgery with VTs between Nov 1st 2007 and Dec 31st 2008 (n = 136) were invited to participate. Pure tone audiometry, speech audiometry and tympanometry were measured. A self-report questionnaire assessed subjective hearing, ear complaints and the location of follow-ups. This study includes enough patients to observe group differences in mean threshold (0.5–1–2–4 kHz) of 9 dB or more.


There were no preoperative differences in audiometry or tympanometry between the children scheduled for follow-ups by GPs (n = 23) or otolaryngologists (n = 50). Two years after surgery there were no differences between the GP and otolaryngologist groups in improvement of mean hearing thresholds (12.8 vs 12.6 dB, p = 0.9) or reduction of middle ears with effusion (78.0 vs 75.0%, p = 0.9). We found no differences between the groups in terms of parental reports of child hearing or ear complaints.


Implementation of new clinical guidelines for follow-ups after insertion of VTs did not negatively affect audiological outcomes or subjective hearing complaints two years after surgery.

Otitis media; Tympanostomy tubes; Follow-up care; General practice; Implementation; Clinical guidelines; Hearing; Children