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Surgical treatment of chronic ear disease in remote or resource-constrained environments

  • M C F Smith (a1) (a2), C Huins (a2) and M Bhutta (a3)

Surgery for chronic suppurative otitis media performed in low- and middle-income countries creates specific challenges. This paper describes the equipment and a variety of techniques that we find best suited to these conditions. These have been used over many years in remote areas of Nepal.

Results and conclusion

Extensive chronic suppurative otitis media is frequently encountered, with limited pre-operative investigation or treatment possible. Techniques learnt in better-resourced settings with good follow up need to be modified. The paper describes surgical methods suitable for resource-poor conditions, with rationales. These include methods of tympanoplasty for subtotal wet perforations, hearing reconstruction in wet ears and open cavities, large aural polyps, and canal wall down mastoidectomy with cavity obliteration. Various types of autologous ossiculoplasty are described in detail for use in the absence of prostheses. The following topics are discussed: decision-making for surgery on wet or best hearing ears, children, bilateral surgery, working with local anaesthesia, and obtaining adequate consent in this environment.

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Corresponding author
Author for correspondence: Mr Michael C F Smith, 7 Brook Orchard, Marden, Hereford HR1 3EJ, UK E-mail:
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Mr M C F Smith takes responsibility for the integrity of the content of the paper

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