Objectives: The role of tympanostomy in the treatment of otitis media with effusion (OME) in children with palate cleft with regard to the otologic and audiologic outcome is controversial. Little is known about the development of the mastoid air cell system (MACS) in these children.
Study Design: Controlled, prospective.
Methods: All children born in the hospital district area of the Central Hospital of Central Finland during the years 1983 to 1993 with palate cleft were reviewed at the age of 6 months. A total of 39 patients were followed up for 6 years after primary tympanostomy. Otologic and audiologic data were collected, and the MACS size was planimetrically measured. The control group consisted of age-matched children without palate cleft suffering from OME and were identically reviewed.
Results: The otologic outcome was similar in the study group, 64.1%, and among the controls, 60.6% were healed. There were no serious otologic complications in the study group. The audiologic outcome was also similar, with a mean pure-tone average (0.5–2 kHz) of 10.5 dB and 10.9 dB for the corresponding groups. The initial size and growth of the MACS did not significantly differ between the groups.
Conclusions: The prognosis of children with palate cleft treated with early tympanostomy is favorable and does not differ from children without palate cleft. Active treatment ensures normal hearing during the critical years of language, speech, and cognitive development and maintains the development of an aerated mastoid. We believe that early tympanostomy is the treatment of choice of OME in palate cleft children.