Use of Positive Airway Pressure Following Middle Ear Surgery: A Practice Survey of Otologists

Douglas S Ruhl, Anthony M Tolisano, Bradley W Kesser, George T Hashisaki, Macario Camacho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Positive airway pressure (PAP) devices are used as treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). PAP may increase middle ear pressure which is of interest to otologic surgeons. There is a lack of data to guide management of PAP therapy after middle ear surgery.

OBJECTIVE: To elucidate how otologic surgeons manage PAP in their patients after ear surgery.

STUDY DESIGN: A survey e-mailed to practicing members of the American Neurotology Society.

RESULTS: Among 60 respondents, the most common recommendations to patients were to avoid PAP use for 1 week (40%), return to normal use immediately (23.3%), avoid PAP for 1 month (13.3%), or avoid PAP for 1 day (13.3%) after surgery. Twenty percent of providers reported that they change their advice on the basis of the PAP pressure settings (i.e., shorter hiatus for higher settings). Among respondents, 47% think that they have patients with middle ear issues because of PAP and 13% attributed surgical failures to PAP use. One-third of providers routinely pack the Eustachian tube during surgery. Providers who attributed a negative surgical outcome to PAP use were more likely to routinely pack/plug the Eustachian tube during otologic surgery (p = 0.001).

CONCLUSION: Treatment recommendations regarding postoperative PAP treatment for obstructive sleep apnea vary greatly among practicing otologists. Providers who think that an adverse outcome was attributed to PAP use were more likely to prophylactically plug the Eustachian tube during surgery. Future research will provide additional information which will allow a better understanding of the effect of PAP on the middle ear, especially after otologic surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e134-e137
JournalOtology and Neurotology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 2017


  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure/methods
  • Ear, Middle/surgery
  • Eustachian Tube
  • Humans
  • Otolaryngologists
  • Otologic Surgical Procedures
  • Postoperative Care/methods
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Pressure
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive/therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


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