Background: Head and neck cancers, including nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), are relatively common in Saudi Arabia. Radiotherapy is a standard treatment for NPC, but it can lead to side effects, including post-radiation otitis media with effusion (OME). Managing post-radiotherapy OME remains a topic of debate, with various interventions proposed. This study aims to review the efficacy of different methods to manage post- radiotherapy OME in NPC. This includes tympanostomy tube insertion, frequent myringotomies, and observation. Methods: A systematic review was carried out for articles published between 1975 and 2023 following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Excluded from the analysis were articles that involved patients undergoing surgical treatment for nasopharyngeal cancer, studies that focused on patients with other head and neck cancers who developed OME after radiotherapy, research investigating the effectiveness of surgical procedures unrelated to tympanostomy tube insertion, studies written in non-English language, and case reports, reviews, or conference letters. Results: A total of 450 studies were screened, of which six studies were included in the review, yielding 328 patients. The mean age ranged between 46 and 52 years. Follow-up varied from six months to 11 years. The intervention in all studies was tympanostomy tube insertion, and the controls were myringotomy, observation, or tympanic membrane fenestration with cauterization. The use of recurrent myringotomies for the treatment of OME in patients with NP post-radiotherapy is associated with improved chances for the resolution of effusion and decreased risk of complications when compared to tympanostomy tube insertion. Hence, we recommend following a step-wise approach when dealing with this group of patients, offering grommets for patients with persistent effusion or those who cannot tolerate frequent procedures.

Recommended Articles