Mechanical ventilation and middle ear effusions among tracheostomy-dependent children

Erin M. Wynings, Hussein Jaffal, Rachel St. John, Romaine F. Johnson, Stephen R. Chorney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To determine the cumulative 24-month incidence of middle ear effusion (MEE) among tracheostomy-dependent children requiring ventilatory support. Methods: A prospective longitudinal cohort study included all children under 2 years of age with a tracheostomy placed at a tertiary care children's hospital between 2015 and 2020 that obtained at least one tympanometry exam. The development of MEE, defined as a flat tympanogram with normal external canal volume, and mechanical ventilation requirement at examination were recorded. Results: Ninety-four children with a mean age at tracheostomy of 5.4 months (SD: 3.7) were included. During a mean follow-up of 18.3 months (SD: 14.6) (median: 14.1 months, interquartile range: 6.6–27.8), 192 tympanometry examinations were obtained with 59% (114/192) while requiring mechanical ventilation. Within 24 months after tracheostomy, 56.5% (95% CI: 48.9–64.4%) of children developed at least one MEE. Among those on mechanical ventilation, 74.0% (95% CI: 65.6–82.5%) developed MEE compared to 31.2% (95% CI: 21.4–44.0%) not on mechanical ventilation (HR: 2.97, 95% CI: 1.46–6.05, P = .003). A persistent MEE on two consecutive exams was not statistically more common for children on a ventilator (OR: 0.64, 95% CI: 0.01–6.95, P = .70). When controlling for age at exam, craniofacial syndrome, and newborn hearing test results on logistic regression, ventilator-dependence significantly predicted the presence of MEE (OR: 2.34, 95% CI: 1.18–4.68, P = .02). Conclusion: Children with a tracheostomy were more likely to develop MEE when requiring mechanical ventilation. Clinicians should recognize this risk factor and appropriately assess for development of MEE to mitigate adverse speech and language development outcomes in this vulnerable population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111062
JournalInternational Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Middle ear effusion
  • Otitis media with effusion
  • Pediatric tracheostomy
  • Tympanometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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