June 3, 2008 Three new studies published in the June 2008 edition of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery focus on what role gender plays in the prognosis of oral tongue cancer, chronic ear infections in children, and the success rates of hearing aid implants in the elderly.
"These studies are prime examples of the wide variety of critical research being undertaken every day by otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeons; research that will improve physicians' ability to provide the best patient care for the ear, nose, throat, head and neck," said journal editor Richard M. Rosenfeld, MD.
Researchers at the University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy, found that although oral cancer is more prevalent in men, in their study group of 71 women and 142 men diagnosed with tongue cancer, gender did not influence prognosis. Based on this, the researchers concluded that employing a less aggressive course of treatment in female patients due to their gender was not justified.
A second study looks into speech performance when using digital hearing aids of the "young elderly" (65-80) compared with older elderly people (over 80). In this study by Taiwanese researchers, 59 patients with hearing loss and digital hearing aids were divided into two groups based on age. The study showed that age played no role in the improvement of a patient's ability to hear, with both groups exhibiting improved performance in the four months following the hearing aid fitting. The authors believe that based on this research, physicians should not view age as a limiting factor as to whether to fit older patients with hearing aids.
A third study focuses on pediatric care, looking into the cause and treatment of chronic ear infections where fluid is present behind the ear drum (otitis media with effusion). Results from this study, conducted by Australian researchers, indicate that the presence of intracellular bacteria in the middle ear plays an important role in the development of inflamed tissue and mucus in the area. Therefore, according to researchers, using antibiotics that specifically target intracellular bacteria may prove to be a more effective course of treatment.
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