Evidence Based Snapshots

The Journal of Informed Pharmacotherapy 2004;14:153.

Clinical Efficacy of Three Common Treatments in Acute Otitis Externa in Primary Care: Randomised Controlled Trial

Reviewer: James McCormack, B.Sc. (Pharm), Pharm. D.
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Reviewer's profession/specialty:
Associate Editor, Journal of Informed Pharmacotherapy

Original Citation

Clinical efficacy of three common treatments in acute otitis externa in primary care: randomised controlled trial. van Balen FA, Smit WM, Zuithoff NP, Verhe TJ.  BMJ 2003;327:1201-5 PubMed Citation

Overall Study Question

These investigators compared acetic acid, to steroid plus acetic acid, to steroid plus antibiotics in the treatment of acute otitis externa.


213 patients with acute otitis externa. The average age of the patients was 45 years and 50% were female. 


Patients were randomized in a blinded fashion to receive either acetic acid, acetic acid plus triamcinolone or dexamethasone plus neomycin/polymyxin B all given three times daily until the patient had recovered.


The study duration was 21 days.



How does this study contribute to the drug therapy of patients with acute otitis externa?

This study suggests that eardrops containing corticosteroids plus acetic acid or corticosteroids plus antibiotics are more effective than acetic acid drops on their own in the treatment of otitis externa. There is no difference in efficacy between eardrops containing a combination of ingredients. 

Copyright © 2004 by the Journal of Informed Pharmacotherapy. All rights reserved.