Tuberculosis of the middle ear: A systematic review

Kavya K. Pai, Ariel O. Omiunu, Dhiraj K. Peddu, Vivienne H. Au, Soly Baredes, Robert W. Jyung, Jean Anderson Eloy, Christina H. Fang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: Tuberculous otitis media (TOM) is a rare extrapulmonary manifestation of tuberculosis (TB) and remains challenging to diagnose due to non-specific symptoms. This systematic review identifies clinical characteristics, diagnostic evaluation, and outcomes in cases of TOM. Methods: A comprehensive literature search utilizing the PubMed, CINAHL, Scopus, and Cochrane Library databases was conducted for relevant articles published between 2000 and 2021. Cases involving adult patients with TOM were included. Non-English studies, animal studies, and reviews were excluded. Results: 41 case reports and 7 case series were included, comprising data from 67 patients. The mean age was 40 years (range, 19–87 years) and the majority were female (n = 46, 68.7 %). The mean symptom duration was 12.8 months (range, 0.25–120 months). Common symptoms included otorrhea (n = 60, 89.6 %), HL (n = 58, 86.6 %), otalgia (n = 19, 28.4 %), and FP (n = 18, 26.9 %). Otoscopy revealed tympanic membrane (TM) perforation in 45 patients (67.2 %). Most patients were diagnosed with tissue biopsy (n = 53, 79.1 %). Surgical interventions were performed in 48 patients (71.6 %) and 63 patients (94.0 %) were prescribed anti-TB chemotherapy. Long-term sequelae (e.g., HL, FP, and TM perforation) were noted in 39 patients (58.2 %) at a mean follow-up of 18.8 months (range, 1–120 months). Conclusion: TOM should be included in the differential diagnosis of chronic suppurative otitis media. Histopathological examination is a reliable diagnostic method. Early detection and management are recommended for optimizing outcomes. Level of evidence: 3b.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103571
JournalAmerican Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Medicine and Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022


  • Middle ear tuberculosis
  • Otitis media
  • Otomastoiditis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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