Objective: Secretory otitis media (SOM) is characterized by persistent fluid in the middle ear cavity, but the cause is unknown. We investigated clinical, bacteriological and immunological effects of treatment with probiotic bacteria on SOM.
Design: In this double blind, pilot/premlininary study, 60 children with long-standing SOM (median 6 months) who were scheduled for insertion of tympanostomy tubes were randomized to nasal spray treatment with Streptococcus sanguinis, Lactobacillus rhamnosus or placebo for 10 days before surgery. Clinical evaluation was made after 10 days of treatment. Middle ear fluid (MEF) was collected during surgery for quantification of cytokines and detection of bacteria by culture and PCR. Nasopharyngeal swabs were obtained before treatment and at surgery.
Results: Complete or significant clinical recovery occurred in 7/19 patients treated with S. sanguinis compared to 1/17 patient in the placebo group (p<0.05). In the L. rhamnosus treatment group 3/18 patients were cured or much better (p=0.60 compared with placebo). Spray treatment did not alter the composition of the nasopharyngeal flora, or the cytokine pattern observed in the nasopharynx or MEF, except a higher level of IL-8 in nasopharynx of L. rhamnosus treated children.
Conclusions: This study shows that spray treatment with S. sanguis may be effective against SOM. The mechanism for the effect remains to be investigated.