Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013
The first clinical guidelines ever created regarding the use of ear tubes—medically named tympanostomy tubes—were released yesterday by the American Academy of Otolargyngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF).
These tiny tubes, about 1/20th of an inch, may be the best treatment for children suffering from ear aches, ear infections and middle ear fluid build-up. They work by allowing air to pass through the ear canal, which helps the fluid drain. The tubes are inserted into a child’s ear canal under light general anesthesia and will fall out naturally over time from wax and debris build-up in the ears.
According to Dr. Richard Rosenfeld, chairman of otolaryngology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, the insertion of ear tubes is the number-one ambulatory surgery in children and the number-one reason they undergo anesthesia. However, until yesterday, “no national society has ever published evidence-based guidelines on the best way to do this,” he told CNN Health.
Written by a panel of pediatricians, ear, nose, and throat specialists, and an anesthesiologist, among others, these new guidelines address the implantation of ear tubes in children ages 6 months to 12 years. The guidelines suggest that children who have frequent ear infections that hold onto fluid (in other words, don’t clear up quickly) are good candidates for ear tubes. Children experiencing fluid build-up in both ears for 3-months or more may also need tubes since the clogged hearing affects their balance, motor skills, and quality of life in group settings—such as in the classroom or social situations. Additionally, children at risk for fluid build-up related delays, such as those with autism, Down syndrome, or other developmental delays, should also be given ear tubes according to the guidelines.
Interestingly, the guidelines dictate that tubes should not be given to those children with frequent ear infections that do not have fluid build-up, which is a deviation from standard medical practice. Ask your doctor if your child has fluid build-up in his or her ears. If your child does not, ear tubes should be avoided according to these guidelines.
Image: Doctor looking at child’s ear, via Shutterstock
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Friday, April 5th, 2013
Having wisdom teeth removed can be a rite of passage in the teen or young adult years. But a new study has found that children who get shots of anesthetic for dental work may not grow lower wisdom teeth. More from NBC News:
The findings, published in The Journal of the American Dental Association, suggest it might be possible to deliberately prevent the development of the often-troublesome teeth, the team at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine said.
“It is intriguing to think that something as routine as local anesthesia could stop wisdom teeth from developing,” says Dr. Anthony Silvestri, who oversaw the study.
The team just looked at children being treated at Tufts, and they only have a few hundred records, so the findings would have to be repeated in a larger group of children to be sure. But they suggest it might be possible to apply an already widely used medication to prevent the development of a common tooth problem.
As many as 5 million Americans get their wisdom teeth pulled every year. Medically known as third molars, these very back teeth usually emerge in the late teens or early 20s and they can sometimes cause trouble, pushing against other teeth. They are also difficult to clean and can become decayed.
Image: Child at dentist, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, February 2nd, 2012
Infants who require multiple exposures to medical anesthesia in the first two years of their lives have a higher chance of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as they grow, a study published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings has found. At least two surgeries rendered kids twice as likely to develop the disorder before age 19, the study found.
CNN.com reports that researchers are not taking the findings as evidence that children should not have necessary surgical procedures:
The longer a child was unconscious, the greater the ADHD risk, which suggests that even several short exposures to anesthesia could heighten risk, says senior study author David O. Warner, M.D., a pediatric anesthesiologist at the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester.
Warner, however, stresses that parents should not be unduly alarmed if their child requires general anesthesia. “All we can say is that we can’t exclude that this could be a problem,” he says, noting that the findings do not prove cause and effect.
Very few young children undergo surgery requiring general anesthesia, and those who do typically have serious medical conditions that can’t be ignored. Procedures might include hernia repair (to prevent a section of intestine from getting trapped and causing an obstruction), or surgeries to correct life-threatening abnormalities of the lungs or heart.
Image: Baby in the hospital, via Shutterstock
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