Cephalexin was compared to ampicillin for the treatment of otitis media in a randomized study. Bacteriologic diagnosis was sought by needle tympanocentesis in 179 children. No overall statistically significant differences were noted between the two groups; however, 20 patients who received cephalexin had a poor response to therapy whereas only five recipients of ampicillin responded poorly. A significant difference (P < .05) between the two regimens was noted when Hemophilus influenzae was recovered. Fifty per cent of the children with H. influenzae otitis media who were treated with cephalexin responded poorly; no patients receiving ampicillin had a poor response. Our data suggest that the use of cephalexin monohydrate is not warranted for treatment of otitis media due to H. influenzae even when the isolate proves sensitive to this drug in vitro. In selected patients with otitis media caused by Staphylococcus aureus which is resistant to penicillin, cephalexin may provide effective treatment.

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