Tubercular otitis media: demystifying its nuances and an update on the tenets of emerging perspectives

Apoorva Kumar Pandey, Aparna Bhardwaj, Tripti Maithani, Madhuri Kaintura, Fatma Anjum, Akanksha Bisht


Background: Tuberculous otitis media (TOM), a rare cause of chronic otitis media, is easily confused with nonspecific chronic otitis media owing to its unexpectedly changing and variable presentation, low suspicion and low prevalence which causes difficulty in its early diagnosis. The purpose of this study was to analyze its changing clinical pattern and to formulate an acceptable management protocol.

Methods: This retrospective observational, descriptive study included 457 cases of Chronic otitis media who were operated between January 2017 to July 2020 in a tertiary care center. Histo-pathological examination of tissue from the middle ear and mastoid were sent and positive results were corroborated retrospectively to the clinical findings.

Results: Diagnosis of TOM was established post-operatively in five cases (1.09%) with a positive histopathology report in four out of five cases and by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in one case. Three cases (60%) presented with facial palsy and one with profound hearing loss (20%). All cases received 6 months course of anti-tubercular therapy postoperatively and were in regular follow up.

Conclusions: Tuberculosis of the middle ear can present unexpectedly either as a complication or completely as a non-specific chronic otitis media. The extent of pathological findings might not be in commensuration with the clinical features. In operated chronic otitis media cases, specimen for histopathological examination must be sent in all cases and further specific microbiological investigations may as well be advised accordingly.


Tuberculous otitis media, Otomastoiditis, anti-tubercular therapy, facial nerve palsy, tympanic membrane, acid fast bacilli

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