BACKGROUND:

Acute otorrhea is a common problem in children with tympanostomy tubes. We recently demonstrated that treatment with antibiotic-glucocorticoid eardrops is clinically superior to oral antibiotics and initial observation. The aim of this study was to assess the cost-effectiveness of these three common treatment strategies for this condition.

METHODS:

We performed an open-label pragmatic trial in which 230 children with acute uncomplicated tympanostomy-tube otorrhea were randomly allocated to receive 1 of 3 treatments: hydrocortisone-bacitracin-colistin eardrops, oral amoxicillin-clavulanate suspension, and initial observation (no assigned medication prescription to fill). Parents kept a daily diary capturing ear-related symptoms, health care resource use, and non–health care costs for 6 months. At 2 weeks and 6 months, the study doctor visited the children at home performing otoscopy. Using a societal perspective, treatment failure (otoscopic presence of otorrhea at 2 weeks) and number of days with otorrhea as reported in the daily diary were balanced against the costs.

RESULTS:

Antibiotic-glucocorticoid eardrops were clinically superior to oral antibiotics and initial observation both at 2 weeks and 6 months. At 2 weeks, mean total cost per patient was US$42.43 for antibiotic-glucocorticoid eardrops, US$70.60 for oral antibiotics, and US$82.03 for initial observation. At 6 months, mean total cost per patient was US$368.20, US$420.73, and US$640.44, respectively. Because of the dominance of eardrops, calculating incremental cost-effectiveness ratios was redundant.

CONCLUSIONS:

Antibiotic-glucocorticoid eardrops are clinically superior and cost less than oral antibiotics and initial observation in children with tympanostomy tubes who develop otorrhea.

You do not currently have access to this content.