Histopathological and Inflammatory Features of Chronically Discharging Open Mastoid Cavities: Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Clinical Trial

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Abstract

Importance

Many patients with an open radical mastoid cavity experience therapy-resistant otorrhea. Little is known about the underlying histopathological substrate of unstable cavities and the correlation with treatment failure.

Objective

To study the histopathological and inflammatory features of chronically discharging open radical mastoid cavities and the influence of different treatments.

Design, Setting, and Participants

This secondary analysis of a randomized clinical trial was a histopathology study of tissue samples of a cohort of 30 patients with a chronically discharging open mastoid cavity. Samples were taken from the cavities, which were treated with either honey gel or conventional eardrops in a tertiary center between 2012 and 2013. Tissue staining was performed in May 2014; final computer analysis/correlation studies were performed in June 2016.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Differences of epithelial tissue coverage, infiltration of T cells (CD3, CD4, CD8) and macrophage (CD68, isoenzyme nitric oxide synthase, arginase 1) (sub-)populations, infection status, and the correlation with clinical presentation.

Results

There were 30 patients (24 [80%] male; mean [SD] age, 59 [14] years). Cavities were covered with either stratified squamous (keratinized) epithelium (n = 10), respiratory columnar epithelium (n = 9), or granulation tissue (n = 10). The presence of respiratory epithelium was associated with lower treatment success (posttreatment VAS improvement of 3.1 [95% CI, 0.5 to 5.8] for discomfort and 3.6 [95% CI, 0.2 to 6.9] for otorrhea in the group with granulation tissue coverage vs 4.9 [95% CI, 0.2 to 9.6] and 5.8 [95% CI, −0.1 to 11.6] in the group with squamous [keratinized] epithelium coverage and 1.4 [95% CI, −1.2 to 4.1] and 2.5 [95% CI, −1.3 to 6.2] in the group with respiratory columnar epithelium coverage). In all 3 tissue types of cavity-covering tissues, T-cell infiltrates consisted of helper T cells and cytotoxic T cells, together with a lower number of macrophages. The immunopositivity for isoenzyme nitric oxide synthase and arginase 1 was high and not restricted to a macrophage subpopulation, but seen in various cell types. Inflammatory infiltrations varied strongly in all 3 tissue modalities.

Conclusions and Relevance

Discharging open mastoid cavities can be classified histologically into 3 different types, based on their coverage: squamous epithelium, respiratory epithelium, or granulation tissue. Treatment is less successful in cavities covered with respiratory epithelium, possibly explained by the status of bacterial infection and local immunological differences.

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