Topical or oral antibiotics for children with acute otitis media presenting with ear discharge: study protocol of a randomised controlled non-inferiority trial

Saskia Hullegie, Roderick P Venekamp, Thijs M A van Dongen, Sanne Mulder, Willem van Schaik, G Ardine de Wit, Alastair D Hay, Paul Little, Michael V Moore, Elisabeth A M Sanders, Marc J M Bonten, Debby Bogaert, Anne Gm Schilder, Roger A M J Damoiseaux

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BACKGROUND: Around 15%-20% of children with acute otitis media present with ear discharge due to a spontaneous tear or perforation of the eardrum (AOMd). Current guidance recommends clinicians to consider oral antibiotics as first-line treatment in this condition. The opening in the eardrum however should allow topical antibiotics to enter the middle ear directly. Local administration of antibiotics does not expose children to systemic side effects and may put less selective resistance pressure on bacteria. Evidence on the effectiveness of this approach in children with AOMd is lacking.

METHODS AND ANALYSIS: A primary care-based, open, individually randomised, controlled, non-inferiority trial. The trial aims to recruit 350 children aged 6 months to 12 years with AOMd and ear pain and/or fever. Participants will be randomised to 7 days of hydrocortisone-bacitracin-colistin eardrops five drops three times daily or amoxicillin oral suspension 50 mg/kg body weight per day, divided over three doses. Parents will keep a daily diary of AOM symptoms, adverse events and complications for 2 weeks. In addition, they will record AOM recurrences, healthcare utilisation and societal costs for 3 months. The primary outcome is the proportion of children without ear pain and fever at day 3. Secondary outcomes include ear pain and fever intensity/severity; days with ear discharge; eardrum perforation at 2 weeks; adverse events during first 2 weeks; costs; and cost effectiveness at 2 weeks and 3 months. The primary analyses will be intention-to-treat and per-protocol analyses will be conducted as well.

ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: The medical research ethics committee Utrecht, The Netherlands has given ethical approval (17-400/G-M). Parents/guardians of participants will provide written informed consent. Study results will be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed medical journals and presented at relevant (inter)national scientific meetings.

TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: The Netherlands National Trial Register; NTR6723. Date of registration: 27 November 2017.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere052128
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ open
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2021

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© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.


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