We present the results of the insertion of self-made polyethylene T-tubes for a period of 15–24 months for the treatment of chronic middle-ear effusion. We compare the outcome of our patients to the reported outcome of patients treated with other commonly used ventilation tubes for either shorter or longer periods of time. In a retrospective review of 603 T-tubes inserted in 306 children up to the age of 12 years, charts were reviewed for age, sex, surgical procedure performed, duration of ventilation and complications. In all cases the indication for surgery was chronic middle-ear effusion. The tubes were electively removed by the authors after 15–24 months of ventilation. Spontaneous extrusion was considered a complication. The mean period of ventilation was 20 months. Post-operative otorrhoea was experienced in 6.6 per cent of ears; 4.8 per cent of tubes extruded spontaneously, whereas 3.15 per cent had to be removed earlier than originally planned; 4.9 per cent of ears were re-ventilated at a later date, and 1.49 per cent of ears developed a persistent perforation. We demonstrate that the outcome of patients treated with our self-manufactured tubes for a period of 15–24 months is, in many respects, better or at least comparable to the reported outcome of patients treated with other commonly used ventilation tubes for either shorter or longer periods of time, and that the many complications associated with the conventional T-tube can be reduced. We suggest that our favourable outcome may be due to the duration of ventilation, which was controlled to be shorter than the conventional long-term T-tubes and longer than that of grommets.
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