The Role of Screening Audiometry in the Management of Otitis Media With Effusion in Children With Cleft Palate in Northern Ireland

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To determine uptake and outcome of hearing screening in the cleft palate population in Northern Ireland (NI) and the rate of ventilation tube (VT) insertion over a 3-year period.


In NI, hearing screening is offered in the neonatal period, at 9 months in the community, and at 2.5 years in the joint cleft clinic.


Eighty-five children with cleft palate born between 2006 and 2008 in NI were eligible for all three screenings.


A retrospective case note review was performed of tympanograms, audiometry, and VT insertion rates at each of the three time points.


In the neonatal period, all patients eligible were screened; 66 (77.6%) patients passed the screening, with 19 patients (22.4%) failing, resulting in direct referral to ENT for consideration of VT. Results of the 9-month community screening were not made routinely available to the regional cleft service. At the 2.5-year clinic screening, all attending patients (n = 80) had documented screening. Fifty-two (65%) patients passed screening, with 28 patients (35%) failing screening. Forty-six patients (57.5%) had documented VT, and 9 (11.25%) were awaiting ENT review for consideration of VT.


Ventilation tubes are not routinely inserted at the time of cleft repair in the NI population, and 57.5% of our cleft population has ventilation tubes inserted by 2.5 years. Cleft patients in NI have regular routine hearing assessments, and our current practice avoids universal ventilation tube insertion while identifying those who need further hearing management. Further research is needed to reach an international consensus on the insertion of VT in cleft patients.

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