A Meta-Analysis of Swimming and Water Precautions

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To reconcile conflicting reports concerning the incidence of otorrhea in children with tympanostomy tubes who swim without ear protection.

Study Selection:

Articles were identified by MEDLINE search, Current Contents, and references from review articles, textbook chapters, and retrieved reports. Controlled trials of water precautions following tympanostomy tube placement were selected by independent observers and scored on 10 measures of study validity. Five English-language articles met all inclusion criteria.

Data Extraction:

Data were abstracted for an endpoint of otorrhea following swimming without ear protection with a minimum follow-up of 6 weeks.

Data Synthesis:

Pooled analysis of 619 children revealed a rate difference of −5.04 (95% confidence interval [CI], −11.62 to 1.54). No significant difference in the incidence of otorrhea was noted between patients who swam without ear protection and nonswimmers.


There is no increase in incidence of otorrhea in children who swim without ear protection compared with children who do not swim following tympanostomy tube placement.

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