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Value of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in the management of malignant otitis externa patients




Malignant external otitis is a rapidly spreading bacterial infection that is aggressive in nature and may be fatal if left untreated. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a medical treatment in which the entire body is placed in an airtight chamber at increased atmospheric pressure and has been proven to be effective for a number of different medical conditions.


The aim of this study was to assess the usefulness of HBOT as an adjunctive treatment in patients with malignant otitis externa.

Patients and methods

Forty-three diabetic patients, who had malignant otitis externa, underwent control of diabetes mellitus and were treated with ciprofloxacin. HBOT was administered to 15 patients as an adjunctive treatment. All the patients were evaluated clinically (in terms of ear discharge, granulations, and pain severity) and radiologically by a temporal bone computed tomography scan. The minimum follow-up duration in both groups was 2 months. HBOT was administered in one session every other day for 2 months, resulting in a total of 30 sessions. Patient factors analyzed included age, sex, ear discharge, and pain severity.


A total of 43 patients (28 men, 15 women) were divided into two groups: group A (28 patients) only received the antibiotic ciprofloxacin and group B (15 patients) was treated with ciprofloxacin and hyperbaric oxygen. The severity of pain improved considerably and the pain score decreased markedly from score 3 (severe) to score 0 (no pain) after 1 month in 46.7 and 93.3% of the patients by the end of the second month in comparison with patients treated only with the antibiotic: 0% after 1 month and 28.5% after 2 months. On clinical and microscopic examination, both ear discharge and granulations in the external canal had improved considerably. There was no ear discharge in 80% of patients in group B after one month treathent, 93.3% after 2 months, in comparison with 0% after 1 month, 28.5% after 2 months treatment in group A, highly statistically significant (P<0.001).


The addition of HBOT to medical treatment is highly effective and has facilitated considerable improvement in patients.


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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Reda M. Sabra MD.

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None declared.

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Sabra, R.M., Taha, M.S., Khafagy, A.G. et al. Value of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in the management of malignant otitis externa patients. Egypt J Otolaryngol 31, 143–148 (2015).

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  • hyperbaric oxygen therapy
  • malignant
  • otitis externa