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Treatment of Acute Otitis Media With a Shortened Course of Antibiotics:  A Meta-analysis FREE

Anita L. Kozyrskyj, BScPhm, MSc; G. Elske Hildes-Ripstein, MD; Sally E. A. Longstaffe, MD; J. Leigh Wincott, MD; Daniel S. Sitar, BScPhm, PhD; Terry P. Klassen, MD, MSc; Michael E. K. Moffatt, MD, MSc
[+] Author Affiliations

From the Department of Community Health Sciences (Ms Kozyrskyj and Dr Moffatt), Manitoba Centre for Health Policy and Evaluation (Ms Kozyrskyj), the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health (Drs Hildes-Ripstein, Longstaffe, Wincott, Sitar, and Moffatt), and Clinical Pharmacology Section (Dr Sitar), University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba; and Department of Pediatrics, Research Institute, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario (Dr Klassen).


JAMA. 1998;279(21):1736-1742. doi:10.1001/jama.279.21.1736.
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Objective.— To conduct a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of antibiotic treatment of acute otitis media in children to determine whether outcomes were comparable in children treated with antibiotics for less than 7 days or at least 7 days or more.

Data Sources.— MEDLINE (1966-1997), EMBASE (1974-1997), Current Contents, and Science Citation Index searches were conducted to identify randomized controlled trials of the treatment of acute otitis media in children with antibiotics of different durations.

Study Selection.— Studies were included if they met the following criteria: subjects aged 4 weeks to 18 years, clinical diagnosis of acute otitis media, no antimicrobial therapy at time of diagnosis, and randomization to less than 7 days of antibiotic treatment vs 7 days or more of antibiotic treatment.

Data Extraction.— Trial methodological quality was assessed independently by 7 reviewers; outcomes were extracted as the number of treatment failures, relapses, or reinfections.

Data Synthesis.— Included trials were grouped by antibiotic used in the short course: (1) 15 short-acting oral antibiotic trials (penicillin V potassium, amoxicillin [-clavulanate], cefaclor, cefixime, cefuroxime, cefpodoxime proxetil, cefprozil), (2) 4 intramuscular ceftriaxone sodium trials, and (3) 11 oral azithromycin trials. The summary odds ratio for treatment outcomes at 8 to 19 days in children treated with short-acting antibiotics for 5 days vs 8 to 10 days was 1.52 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.17-1.98) but by 20 to 30 days outcomes between treatment groups were comparable (odds ratio, 1.22; 95% CI, 0.98 to 1.54). The risk difference (2.3%; 95% CI,−0.2% to 4.9%) at 20 to 30 days suggests that 44 children would need to be treated with the long course of short-acting antibiotics to avoid 1 treatment failure. This similarity in later outcomes was observed for up to 3 months following therapy (odds ratio, 1.16; 95% CI, 0.90-1.50). Comparable outcomes were shown between treatment with ceftriaxone or azithromycin, and at least 7 days of other antibiotics.

Conclusion.— This meta-analysis suggests that 5 days of short-acting antibiotic use is effective treatment for uncomplicated acute otitis media in children.

Figures in this Article

ACUTE OTITIS MEDIA (AOM) is one of the most common reasons for a child to be brought to a source of health care. Before age 7 years, 65% to 95% of children will have experienced 1 or more episodes of AOM.1 Acute otitis media is the most common indication for antibiotic prescribing in the United States; over 90% of children with AOM will be treated with a 10-day course of antibiotics.2,3 It has been estimated that more than $3.5 billion is spent annually on managing AOM in the United States.4 The decline in suppurative complications of otitis media (OM) in North America and Europe during the 1940s and 1950s has been attributed to antibiotic therapy.5 More recent evidence suggests that long-term outcomes are similar in antibiotic-treated and untreated children with AOM living in developed countries.2,68 Practitioners in North America, however, may be hesitant to discontinue prescribing antibiotics altogether. In fact, 2 recent meta-analyses of children with AOM reported that compared with placebo, antibiotic treatment did hasten the resolution of acute symptoms.9,10 In some of the trials, symptoms abated by 2 to 3 days of antibiotic treatment, suggesting that a course of antibiotics of less than 10 days of therapy may be an effective alternative.68

The emergence of drug resistance in community-acquired infections, such as that reported in children receiving prophylaxis for recurrent OM, has increased concern over the indiscriminate prescribing of antibiotics.11,12 This concern is evident in recent expert opinion which recommends that the duration of antibiotic treatment in uncomplicated AOM be decreased to 5 days; this recommendation has been further qualified to exclude young children.13,14 The quality of scientific evidence to support a policy for shorter courses of antibiotic treatment has been assessed,15 but a systematic, quantitative evaluation of this evidence is lacking. Therefore, a meta-analysis of the available evidence on the antibiotic treatment of AOM was undertaken, with the primary objective of determining whether treatment with a short course of antibiotics was comparable to treatment with a longer course.

Trial Identification

Randomized controlled trials comparing different durations of antibiotic treatment in children with a diagnosis of AOM were identified from MEDLINE (January 1966 to July 1997), EMBASE (January 1974 to July 1997), Current Contents (January to July 1997), and Science Citation Index searches. There were no language restrictions.16 In MEDLINE, search terms employed were otitis media in medical subject headings, modified by acute in the title or abstract. These terms were combined with the terms of randomized controlled trials, random allocation, double-blind method, single-blind method, or with the term randomized controlled trial in publication type. This strategy, which was approximated for the EMBASE search, was an adaptation of one deemed optimally sensitive for identifying randomized controlled trials in MEDLINE.17 Reference lists of relevant publications were reviewed to identify further trials. Where abstracts were referenced, attempts were made to obtain the published version.

Trial Selection and Quality

Clinical trials of the antibiotic treatment of AOM were independently assessed for inclusion by the 7 authors, according to the following criteria: (1) patients between the ages of 4 weeks and 18 years, (2) clinical diagnosis of AOM and no antimicrobial therapy at time of diagnosis, (3) random assignment to antibiotic treatment of fewer than 7 days vs at least 7 days, and (4) an assessment of clinical resolution of AOM.18 Trials were excluded if there was planned surgical cointervention, but not if myringotomy subsequent to treatment failure or tympanocentesis was performed. Concurrent use of a second antibiotic was not a criterion for trial exclusion, but children given additional antibiotics were counted as treatment failures.

The internal validity of included trials was assessed by the same authors using the Jadad scale.19 The scale assigned scores from 0 to 5 (best-quality trial), based on the following criteria: (1) study participants were randomly allocated to treatment using an appropriate method such as a random numbers table, (2) the intervention was double-blinded using an identical looking and tasting placebo, and (3) an accounting and description of study withdrawals were done.20 Concealment of treatment allocation was also evaluated for adequacy.21,22 Rater assessment was blinded in the majority of trials by removing all identifying features of the published trial, such as author names, affiliations, and sources of financial support and by random ordering of trials.20 Interrater agreement on trial inclusion and the quality score was assessed by the κ statistic using PC Agree software (Stephen Walter, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario). Agreement was categorized using Landis and Koch guidelines.23

Data Abstraction and Definition of Terms

The primary outcome of interest was treatment failure, which included lack of clinical resolution or relapse or recurrence of AOM, during a 31-day period following the initiation of therapy. Clinical resolution meant that the presenting signs or symptoms of AOM had improved or resolved. A secondary outcome was the cumulative number of treatment failures, relapses, and recurrences reported from time of diagnosis until a final evaluation point between 1 to 3 months. Middle ear effusion was not classified as a treatment failure because of its documented persistence during the course of the disease, regardless of treatment.9

Two authors independently abstracted primary and secondary outcome data from each blinded trial, using a standardized data extraction form. Where possible, outcome data were extracted for children both older and younger than 2 years, and for children with perforated and nonperforated tympanic membranes.8,2426 Descriptive data were also collected on the treatment site, patient baseline characteristics, cointerventions, and inclusion, exclusion, and outcome criteria. The number of withdrawals in each treatment arm, including those lost to follow-up, those with adverse drug effects, and those not complying with the study protocol, was recorded.

Data Analysis

Meta-analyses were performed on trials grouped by the pharmacokinetic behavior of the antibiotic used in the short-treatment arm, as follows: (1) short-acting oral antibiotics, eg, penicillin V potassium, amoxicillin, cefaclor, cefuroxime; (2) oral azithromycin; or (3) intramuscular ceftriaxone. Additional meta-analyses were conducted in the short-acting antibiotic group for treatment duration of 48 hours or less and greater than 48 hours.

The meta-analyses were carried out using the Cochrane Collaboration's Revman 3.0 program (Cochrane Collaboration, Oxford, England. The risk of treatment failure with a short course of antibiotics, in comparison to a longer course, was expressed as an odds ratio (OR). An OR greater than 1 indicated a greater number of failures with the short course of antibiotics and superiority of the long course of antibiotics. The ORs were calculated for individual trial outcomes and, using the Peto fixed-effects model, a summary OR was determined for trials pooled by antibiotic type. Statistical heterogeneity among trials was assessed,27,28 and trials with outlying ORs were further investigated.29 In addition, summary ORs were calculated using the DerSimonian and Laird random-effects model.30 To provide additional clinical meaning, results were also expressed as a summary risk difference in the failure rate and the number needed to treat to experience an additional failure in the short treatment arm.28

Sensitivity analyses were conducted to assess the robustness of the meta-analysis by comparing summary ORs among groups redefined by (1) excluding trials of a lower methodological quality (quality ≤2), (2) excluding trials that included children with recurrent or chronic OM, and (3) excluding trials of comparisons between different antibiotics.27 A sensitivity analysis of outcome criteria was also conducted by redefining clinical resolution to include cure, but not improved symptoms. A funnel graph of the sample size vs the OR was plotted to determine whether publication bias existed.27

Literature Search and Trial Inclusion

The MEDLINE search yielded 209 citations of randomized controlled trials in AOM, of which 36 were assessments of the antibiotic treatment duration of AOM in children. An additional 4 trials were found among 236 clinical trials of AOM identified by the EMBASE search. Four trials not identified by MEDLINE or EMBASE were retrieved from the Current Contents index search and reference listings. Three clinical trials of antibiotics no longer used today were excluded,3133 leaving 41 citations for further assessment according to inclusion criteria. Substantial interrater agreement for trial inclusion into the meta-analysis for the remaining trials (κ score, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.86-0.92) was attained. Twelve of these trials were excluded from the meta-analysis for the following reasons: duration of antibiotic therapy was equivalent in both treatment arms3439; duration of antibiotic therapy in both treatment arms was either fewer than 7 days40,41 or7 days or greater42; there was no comparison of different durations of antibiotic therapy43; trial participants were predominantly adults44; or insufficient data were reported in abstract.45 This left 32 trials, contained in 29 published reports, for inclusion in the meta-analysis. The 32 trials were distributed in antibiotic groups as follows: 17 were short-acting antibiotics,26,4658 4 were ceftriaxone sodium,5962 and 11 were azithromycin.6373 Two of the trials were in a language other than English.53,57

Methodologic Quality

The mean quality score for all of the trials was 2.66 (SD, 0.97) of a maximum score of 5 (Table 1). Ceftriaxone trials scored highest (mean, 3.50; SD, 0.58), followed by short-acting antibiotic trials (mean, 2.71; SD, 1.07) and azithromycin trials (mean, 2.27; SD, 0.79). Substantial interrater agreement was reached (weighted κ, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.79-0.85). Only 9 trials in 8 publications reported adequate concealment of treatment allocation.48,53,54,57,60,69,70,73 Cointervention was permitted in 38% of trials, usually with analgesics and decongestants.4648,50,51,53,57,59,6466 In 2 trials, myringotomy had been conducted in early treatment failures.48,59 Concurrent use of a second antibiotic was seen in 1 trial.61 A check for compliance with antibiotic administration was carried out in half of the trials26,46,48,5254,5759,62,67,70,72,73; substantial noncompliance was noted in 3 trials in 2 publications, contributing to the withdrawal of patients.54,67 One trial had an exceptionally high withdrawal rate due to protocol violation, which could not be explained by noncompliance, adverse effects, or loss to follow-up.58 With the exception of 3 trials in 2 publications,54,72 withdrawal rates were similar in both treatment arms.

Table Graphic Jump LocationTable 1.—Methodologic Quality of Included Trials
Description of Trials

Two short-acting antibiotic trials were excluded because outcomes were not reported as treatment failures.50,51 Trials in which short-acting antibiotics were administered for at least 48 hours in the short arm were conducted in the United States or Europe. Although the majority of trials excluded comorbid conditions, only 31% excluded children with chronic or recurrent OM.46,53,55,56 In all trials, diagnosis of AOM was made according to the presence of signs and symptoms. Tympanometry58 and tympanocentesis26,49,54 were not commonly performed. Among trials which reported data on the distribution of age (representing 57% of all children in trials), 45% of children were younger than 2 years.26,47,49,53,57 In 3 trials,5456 representing 43% of children, the mean age was 3.7 years. Fifty-two percent of children were male in trials that reported gender information.26,47,49,5358 Ten trials in 8 publications defined a satisfactory outcome as the resolution or improvement of signs and symptoms, including middle ear effusion.26,46,49,5458 Three trials in 2 publications regarded persistent effusion as a treatment failure.47,53 One thousand children were evaluated at 8 to 19 days after treatment was begun,53,58 and 462 children were evaluated at both 8 to 19 days and 20 to 30 days after entry into trial.26,57 In the remainder of children (n=1653), primary outcomes were assessed only at the 20- to 30-day time period. Secondary outcomes were assessed at 30 to 40 days and 3 months following trial entry.26,46,53,58

The ceftriaxone trials were conducted in the United States or Israel. A diagnosis of AOM was made using clinical and tympanometric criteria. Comorbid conditions were a criterion of exclusion, and half of the trials excluded children with chronic or recurrent OM as well.60,61 The mean age of children in each treatment arm was approximately 2 years and 51.2% of children were male. Treatment outcome criteria included the resolution of signs and symptoms, with or without persistent effusion, in 3 trials; in the fourth trial a satisfactory outcome was defined as only the resolution of symptoms.60 Primary outcomes were evaluated at 1 month following the initial assessment, and secondary outcome assessment ranged from 1 to 3 months.

The azithromycin trials were predominantly multicenter trials, conducted in the United States, Europe, or developing countries. Comorbid conditions were frequently excluded; 4 trials excluded children with chronic or recurrent OM.65,68,70,72 Acute otitis media was diagnosed by the presence of signs and symptoms. Tympanometry63,6870,72,73 and tympanocentesis6365,67,68,70,72,73 were frequently carried out. The mean age of each treatment arm was approximately 4 years and children were predominantly male (56%). Treatment outcomes were defined in terms of the resolution and improvement of signs and symptoms. Five trials specified that persistent middle ear effusion was an acceptable outcome.63,69,70,72,73 All children were evaluated at 10 to 14 days following entry into the trial. Six trials (n=1254) also included a 1-month evaluation.63,6870,72,73

Outcome of Short-Acting Antibiotics in the Short-Treatment Arm

Secondary and not primary outcomes were evaluated in 1 of the trials,46 leaving 14 trials in the meta-analysis of primary outcomes.

Short-Acting Antibiotics Given for 48 Hours or Less

The summary OR for failures at 1 month or less in trials that compared 48 hours or less of antibiotic treatment with at least 7 days was 2.99 (95% CI, 1.04-8.54). Only 2 trials, evaluating a total of 118 children, were included in this meta-analysis.48,52 One of the trials had been terminated prematurely.52

Short-Acting Antibiotics Given for More Than 48 Hours

Antibiotics were administered for 5 days in the short-treatment arm and 8 to 10 days in the long-treatment arm in 12 trials that reported outcomes at 1 month or less. The summary OR for treatment failure in 1549 children treated for 5 days, in comparison to 1569 children treated for 8 to 10 days, was 1.38 (95% CI, 1.15-1.66). One third of these children were evaluated close to the end of the longer course of antibiotics, while the other two thirds were evaluated around 30 days. Primary outcomes were further subdivided by timing of evaluation, subsequent to a concern that evaluations close to the end of treatment would not give a true picture of relapse and reinfection. The odds of treatment failure at an earlier evaluation point (8 to 19 days) in the 5-day treatment arm was increased to 1.52 (95% CI, 1.17-1.98) (Figure 1). The weighted mean failure rate was 19.0% (SE, 7.6%) with 5 days of treatment and 13.7% (SE, 6.4%) in the long-treatment arm. The weighted summary risk difference was 7.8% (95% CI, 4%-11.6%).

Graphic Jump Location
Figure 1.—Treatment outcomes at 8 to 19 days, 20 to 30 days, 30 to 40 days, and 90 days following initiation of therapy with more than 48 hours (5 days) or at least 7 days or more of treatment with a short-acting antibiotic. Summary and individual study odds ratios (ORs), including 95% confidence intervals, are plotted. The number of children assessed is specified in brackets. Odds ratios greater than 1 favor treatment with at least 7 days or more.

However, among 1031 children treated with an antibiotic for 5 days and 1084 children treated for 8 to 10 days, primary outcomes at 20 to 30 days were not significantly different between the 2 groups (OR, 1.22; 95% CI, 0.98-1.54). The weighted mean failure rate at 20 to 30 days was 15.7% (SE, 13.3%) with 5 days of treatment and 12.5% (SE, 12.4%) in the long-treatment arm. The weighted summary risk difference was 2.3% (95% CI,−0.2% to 4.9%). There were no differences in secondary outcomes (failures, relapses, and recurrences during a 3-month period) between 539 children in the short-treatment and 515 children in the long-treatment arms (OR, 1.16; 95% CI, 0.90-1.50).26,46,53,58 Similar summary ORs were obtained in children evaluated at 30 to 40 days (OR, 1.16; 95% CI, 0.87-1.55) or at 90 days (OR, 1.16; 95% CI, 0.65-2.06) (Figure 1).

The summary OR for antibiotic failure at 30 days or less in children younger than 2 years (n=118) and those who were at least 2 years old (n=235) was 0.71 (95% CI, 0.3-1.64) and 1.01 (95% CI, 0.53-1.94), respectively.47,49 Significant differences in outcome between 5-day and 10-day treatment among children younger than 2 years old, but not in older children, were reported in an additional trial, but no extractable subgroup data were presented.58 In the single trial that reported outcome data for perforated and nonperforated eardrums,26 the OR for treatment failure in children with perforated eardrums (n=27) was 3.62 (95% CI, 0.81-16.06) and 1.06 (95% CI, 0.40-2.75) in children with nonperforated eardrums (n=101).

Outcome of Ceftriaxone in the Short-Treatment Arm

Meta-analyses were conducted on 3 trials for primary (n=671)59,60,62 and 2 trials for secondary outcomes (n=312).60,61 The outcomes of treatment with ceftriaxone for 1 month or less and for 3 months or less were not significantly different from those of treatment with a longer course of oral antibiotics, with summary ORs of 1.25 (95% CI, 0.90-1.72) and of 0.91 (95% CI, 0.57-1.47), respectively.

Outcome of Azithromycin in the Short-Treatment Arm

The summary OR for primary outcomes following 3 or 5 days of treatment with azithromycin (n=1347) in comparison to 10 days of treatment with another antibiotic (n=1246) was 1.09 (95% CI, 0.86-1.38). The summary ORs did not change when children were treated for 3 days only (OR, 1.17; 95% CI, 0.71-1.92), when children were evaluated at 10 to 14 days (OR, 1.11; 95% CI, 0.82-1.51), or when children were evaluated at 30 days (OR, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.78-1.34). The odds of treatment failure with azithromycin was 1.92 (95% CI, 0.73-5.04) in children younger than 2 years (n=138; 17.4%) and 1.34 (95% CI, 0.61-2.94) in older children (n=656).66,67

Sensitivity Analysis and Publication Bias

Sensitivity analyses were conducted for all primary outcomes up until 30 days following trial entry, and separately for outcomes at a 20- to 30-day evaluation in the 5-day short-acting antibiotic group. Treatment failures at 30 days or less were not significantly more likely in the short- than long-treatment arm among short-acting antibiotic trials grouped as (1) high-quality trials, (2) trials with adequate treatment allocation, and (3) trials that excluded children with recurrent or chronic OM (Table 2). The majority of summary ORs for primary outcomes at 20 to 30 days did not change during any of the sensitivity analyses.

Table Graphic Jump LocationTable 2.—Sensitivity Analyses of Primary Outcomes at 30 Days or Less and at 20 to 30 Days for Short-Acting Antibiotic Group*

The symmetrical, inverted funnel-shaped plot of the ORs vs sample size, as shown by the wide scattering of ORs from small studies narrowing to a peak among larger trials, suggested no evidence of a publication bias in the meta-analysis trials (Figure 2). Using a random-effects model, which accounts for trial heterogeneity, only 1 of the summary ORs was changed. The random-effects model widened the 95% CI for the summary OR in the short-acting antibiotic group at 8 to 19 days, so that a 5-day course of antibiotics was no longer statistically significantly associated with poorer treatment outcomes than a longer course.

Graphic Jump Location
Figure 2.—Funnel plot of the odds ratios vs sample size for studies included in the meta-analysis of primary outcomes (≤1 month), excluding 1 trial with 17 children and an odds ratio of 13.34.
Adverse Effects

The summary OR for gastrointestinal side effects in the short-acting antibiotics trials was 0.54 (95% CI, 0.43-0.66). An OR less than 1 was observed only in trials in which the short course of antibiotics was compared with a 10-day course of the standard formulation of amoxicillin-clavulanate.54,57,58 Once these were excluded, there was no difference in the likelihood of gastrointestinal side effects following a short or long course of antibiotics (OR, 1.13; 95% CI, 0.81-1.57). Children treated with azithromycin were also less likely to experience gastrointestinal side effects than children treated with a long course of antibiotics (OR, 0.26; 95% CI, 0.19-0.37), which was most often amoxicillin-clavulanate.

Our meta-analysis results indicate that at an early evaluation point (8 to 19 days) a reduction in treatment from 10 to 5 days of short-acting antibiotics may slightly increase the risk of a child experiencing signs and symptoms or relapse or reinfection (OR, 1.52; 95% CI, 1.17-1.98). However, by 30 days following initiation of therapy, a longer course of short-acting antibiotics was comparable to a 5-day course in terms of these outcomes (OR, 1.22; 95% CI, 0.98-1.54). We do note that the latter finding is based on a summary OR for which the lower limit of the CI is close to 1. At the 8- to 19-day evaluation, the difference in risk of failure between treatment with 5 days vs 10 days of a short-acting antibiotic was 7.8%. The clinical significance of this risk difference, expressed as the number needed to treat to experience an additional failure in the short-treatment arm (or 1 divided by the risk difference), indicates that 13 children would require treatment with a long course of antibiotics to prevent 1 excess failure following treatment with a shorter course. However, a recent study suggests that a 6-week evaluation period,74 rather than the traditional 2-week evaluation,75 decreases the necessity of retreating AOM without increasing complications. In our study, the risk difference at 1 month following treatment dropped to 2.3%, which translates into 44 children requiring treatment with a longer course of antibiotics to prevent 1 failure following shorter treatment. This is not likely a clinically important difference because the 44th child with persistent symptoms will generally return to a source of health care. Moreover, a shortened course of antibiotics may protect the child from developing resistant microorganisms,11,12,7679 which in our opinion outweighs the minimal risk of increased treatment failure, if such a risk exists at all.

Differences in outcome between the evaluations at 8 to 19 days and 20 to 30 days likely reflect bias in the timing of evaluation. Children treated with a long course of antibiotics had fewer days to experience an outcome than those treated with 5 days when the time to evaluation was 8 to 19 days, as opposed to 30 days.15 Comparisons of treatment outcome over a 3-month period, although based on a smaller number of children, revealed no significant differences between the 2 treatment regimens. The long-term comparability between a short and long course of antibiotics is biologically plausible, on the basis of (1) spontaneous resolution of untreated AOM,9,10 (2) early eradication of pathogens after 3 to 5 days of treatment,80 (3) poorer penetration of the antibiotic into the ear with continued administration as inflammation decreases,81 and (4) treatment of children without AOM because of diagnostic uncertainty.2

Potential weaknesses of meta-analysis techniques are that they incorporate existing biases and introduce new biases, some of which have predicted discordance of results between meta-analyses and single, large randomized controlled trials.82,83 To minimize bias during study selection, we used predetermined inclusion criteria, and most trials were assessed in a blinded fashion, although recent evidence suggests that blinded evaluations are not necessary.84 Publication bias was assessed in our funnel plot of sample size vs the ORs and none was evident.27 Using the validated Jadad scale to assess for biases within individual trials,19,20 the majority of short-acting antibiotic trials scored less than 3 because they were not double-blinded. Lack of double-blinding in trials has yielded larger estimates of treatment effects.21 In AOM trials, the absence of blinding may bias outcomes in favor of longer treatment with antibiotics because parents and physicians may be more vigilant in detecting failures in a child receiving a shorter course.46 An increased risk of treatment failure with a 5-day course of antibiotics was indeed documented among poor-quality trials in our sensitivity analyses. Less favorable outcomes in the shorter-treatment arm were also limited to trials with inadequate concealment of treatment allocation, consistent with evidence that poor concealment of treatment allocation results in biased treatment effects.21,22 The issue of trial heterogeneity was addressed in our grouping of antibiotics according to pharmacokinetic profile.85 In addition, the fixed-effects model, which assumes trial homogeneity, and the random-effects model, which incorporates between-study variation,82 produced similar ORs in most of the antibiotic subgroups. Specific inclusion criteria for the diagnosis of AOM were not used, but diagnostic criteria were comparable across trials. However, outcome criteria did vary among trials and changes to the definition of a successful outcome altered the 20- to 30-day summary OR.

Most of the short-acting antibiotics in this study are commonly prescribed in primary practice and our sensitivity analyses indicate that comparisons between different short-acting antibiotics did not alter treatment outcomes. Similar outcomes were observed between a 3- or 5-day course of azithromycin and a 10-day course of other antibiotics. Comparability was also demonstrated between ceftriaxone and a longer course of antibiotics, although the sample size of the consolidated trials was small. It is difficult to support the use of azithromycin or ceftriaxone based on their cost and concern over indiscriminate use of broad-spectrum antibiotics.86 Ceftriaxone's intramuscular mode of administration may further limit its role.87 While antibiotic use in children with AOM may increase the incidence of diarrhea and vomiting,10 we did not find that a shortened course of antibiotics decreased the likelihood of gastrointestinal effects, except when compared with a longer course of amoxicillin-clavulanate.

Our findings can be safely applied to children who present to ambulatory care settings with uncomplicated AOM, with some noteworthy exceptions. These findings do not apply to children with underlying disease and potentially children with recurrent or chronic OM. Treatment failure at less than 1 month was not more likely with a 5-day course of antibiotics once children with chronic or recurrent OM were excluded. Subgroup sample sizes were too small to provide a reliable estimate of the risk of treatment failure with a shortened course of antibiotics in children younger than 2 years or children with perforated eardrums. In addition, while our meta-analysis included data on children from various populations, it remains unproven whether our findings can be extrapolated to other high-risk children.5,88

The meta-analysis results support the use of 5 days of a short-acting antibiotic in uncomplicated AOM in the event that clinicians and parents decide to use antibiotics. Treatment with a shortened course of antibiotics has the potential to greatly reduce antibiotic use in regions where 10 days of treatment is considered the standard, with anticipated cost savings, improved compliance, and decreased antibiotic resistance.15

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Moher D, Jadad AR, Nichol G, Penman M, Tugwell P, Walsh S. Assessing the quality of randomized controlled trials.  Control Clin Trials.1995;16:62-73.
Jadad AR, Moore R, Carroll D.  et al.  Assessing the quality of reports of randomized clinical trials: is blinding necessary?  Control Clin Trials.1996;17:1-12.
Schulz KF, Chalmers I, Hayes R, Altman DG. Empirical evidence of bias.  JAMA.1995;273:408-412.
Chalmers TC, Celano P, Sacks HS, Smith Jr H. Bias in treatment assignment in controlled clinical trials.  N Engl J Med.1983;309:1358-1361.
Landis B, Koch GG. The measurement of observer agreement for categorical data.  Biometrics.1977;33:159-174.
Kaleida PH, Casselbrant ML, Rockette HE.  et al.  Amoxicillin or myringotomy or both for acute otitis media.  Pediatrics.1991;87:466-474.
Appelman CLM, Claessen QPL, Touw-Otten FWMM, Hordijk GJ, de Melker RE. Co-amoxiclav in recurrent acute otitis media: placebo controlled study.  BMJ.1991;303:1450-1452.
Hendrickse WA, Kusmiesz H, Shelton S, Nelson JD. Five vs ten days of therapy for acute otitis media.  Pediatr Infect Dis J.1988;7:14-23.
Oxman A. Preparing and maintaining systematic reviews. In: Cochrane Collaboration Handbook. Oxford, England: The Cochrane Collaboration; 1995.
Laupacis A, Sackett DL, Roberts RS. An assessment of clinically useful measures of the consequences of treatment.  N Engl J Med.1988;318:1728-1733.
Thompson SG. Why sources of heterogeneity in meta-analysis should be investigated?  BMJ.1994;309:1351-1355.
DerSimonian R, Laird N. Meta-analysis in clinical trials.  Control Clin Trials.1986;7:177-188.
Stickler GB, McBean JB. The treatment of acute otitis media in children.  JAMA.1964;187:85-89.
Rubenstein MM, McBean JB, Hedgecock LD, Stickler GB. The treatment of acute otitis media in children, III: a third clinical trial.  AJDC.1965;100:308-313.
Stickler GB, Rubenstein MM, McBean JB, Hedgecock LD, Hugstad A, Griffing T. Treatment of acute otitis media in children, IV: a fourth clinical trial.  AJDC.1967;114:123-130.
Jacobson JA, Metcalf TJ, Parkin JL, Wenerstrom LG. Evaluation of cefaclor and amoxycillin in the treatment of acute otitis media.  Postgrad Med J.1979;55(suppl 4):39-41.
Harrison CJ, Chartrand SA, Pichichero ME. Microbiologic and clinical aspects of a trial of once daily cefixime compared with twice daily cefaclor for treatment of acute otitis media in infants and children.  Pediatr Infect Dis J.1993;12:62-69.
Johnson CE, Carlin SA, Super DM.  et al.  Cefixime compared with amoxicillin for treatment of acute otitis media.  J Pediatr.1991;119:117-122.
Murph JR, Dusdieker LB, Booth B, Murph WE. Is treatment of acute otitis media with once-a-day amoxicillin feasible? Results of a pilot study.  Clin Pediatr (Phila).1993;32:528-534.
Spencer RC, Hannington J, Fraser S, Mason T. Cefpodoxime proxetil vs co-amoxiclav in the treatment of acute infections of the ear, nose and throat in children-a multicentre randomized study. In: Program and abstracts of the 18th International Congress of Chemotherapy; June 27-July 2, 1993; Stockholm, Sweden. Abstract 851.
MacLoughlin GJF, Barreto DG, de la Torre C, Pinetta EA, del Castilllo F, Palma L. Cefpodoxime proxetil suspension compared with cefaclor suspension for treatment of acute otitis media in paediatric patients.  J Antimicrob Chemother.1996;37:565-573.
Jenner PN, Tierney HE, Carle WK. A general practice study of a new approach to the use of antibiotics in the treatment of acute otitis media in children aged three and over.  Br J Clin Pract.1987;41:820-826.
Gehanno P, Taillebe M, Denis P.  et al.  Short-course cefotaxime compared with five-day co-amoxyclav in acute otitis media in children.  J Antimicrob Chemother.1990;26(suppl A):29-36.
Mandel EM, Casselbrant ML, Rockette HE, Bluestone CD, Kurs-Lasky M. Efficacy of 20- versus 10-day antimicrobial treatment for acute otitis media.  Pediatrics.1995;96:5-13.
Scott HV, Pannowitz D, Ketelbey JW. Cefixime: clinical trial against otitis media and tonsillitis.  N Z Med J.1990;103:25-26.
O'Doherty B. An open comparative study of azithromycin versus cefaclor in the treatment of patients with upper respiratory tract infections.  J Antimicrob Chemother.1996;37(suppl C):71-81.
Varsano I, Volovitz B, Horev Z.  et al.  Single IM dose of ceftriaxone (CRO) compared to 10 days amoxicillin-clavulanate augmentin (AUG) for therapy of acute otitis media (AOM) in children. Paper presented at: Sixth International Congress for Infectious Disease, Session 117; April 1994; Prague, Czech Republic. Abstract 1059.
Chaput de Saintongue DM, Levine DF, Temple Savage I.  et al.  Trial of three-day and ten-day courses of amoxycillin in otitis media.  BMJ.1982;284:1078-1081.
Ingvarsson L, Lundgren K. Penicillin treatment of acute otitis media in children.  Acta Otolaryngol.1982;94:283-287.
Meistrup-Larsen KI, Sorensen H, Johnsen NJ, Thomsen J, Mygind N, Sederberg-Olsen J. Two versus seven days penicillin treatment for acute otitis media.  Acta Otolaryngol.1983;96:99-104.
Ploussard JH. Evaluation of five days of cefaclor vs ten days of amoxicillin therapy in acute otitis media.  Curr Ther Res.1984;36:641-645.
Bain J, Murphy E, Ross F. Acute otitis media.  Br Med J Clin Res Ed.1985;291:1243-1246.
Jones R, Bain J. Three-day and seven-day treatment in acute otitis media: a double-blind antibiotic trial.  J R Coll Gen Pract.1986;36:356-358.
Puczynski MS, Stankiewicz JA, O'Keefe JP. Single dose amoxicillin treatment of acute otitis media.  Laryngoscope.1987;97:16-18.
Boulesteix J, Dubreuil C, Moutot M, Rezvani Y, Rosembaum Not Available. Cefpodoxime proxetil 5 jours versus cefixime 8 jours, dans le traitement des otites moyennes aigues de l'enfant.  Med Mal Infect.1995;25:534-539.
Gooch WM, Blair E, Puopolo A.  et al.  Effectiveness of five days of therapy with cefuroxime axetil suspension for treatment of acute otitis media.  Pediatr Infect Dis J.1996;15:157-164.
Adam D. Five-day therapy with cefpodoxime versus ten-day treatment with cefaclor in infants with acute otitis media.  Infection.1995;23:398-399.
Kafetzis DA, Astra H, Mitropoulos L. Five-day versus ten-day treatment of acute otitis media with cefprozil.  Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis.1997;16:283-286.
Cohen R, de La Rocque F, Boucherat M.  et al.  Etude randomisee cefpodoxime proxetil 5 jours versus amoxicilline-acide calvulanique 8 jours dans le traitment de l'otite moyenne aigue de l'enfant.  Med Mal Infect.1997;27:596-602.
Hoberman A, Paradise JL, Burch DJ.  et al.  Equivalent efficacy and reduced occurrence of diarrhea from a new formulation of amoxicillin/clavulanate potassium (Augmentin) for treatment of acute otitis media in children.  Pediatr Infect Dis J.1997;16:463-470.
Varsano I, Frydman M, Amir J, Alpert G. Single intramuscular dose of ceftriaxone as compared to 7-day amoxicillin therapy for acute otitis media in children.  Chemotherapy.1988;34(suppl 1):39-46.
Green SM, Rothrock SG. Single-dose intramuscular ceftriaxone for acute otitis media in children.  Pediatrics.1993;91:23-30.
Chamberlain JM, Boenning DA, Waisman Y, Ochsenschlager DW, Klein BL. Single-dose ceftriaxone versus 10 days of cefaclor for otitis media.  Clin Pediatr (Phila).1994;33:642-646.
Barnett ED, Teele DW, Klein JO, Cabral HJ, Kharasch SJ. Comparison of ceftriaxone and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole for acute otitis media.  Pediatrics.1997;99:23-28.
Petalozza G, Cioce C, Facchini M. Azithromycin in upper respiratory tract infections clinical trial in children with otitis media.  Scand J Infect Dis Suppl.1992;83:22-25.
Mohs E, Rodriguez-Solares A, Rivas E, Hoshy ZE. A comparative study of azithromycin and amoxycillin in paediatric patients with acute otitis media.  J Antimicrob Chemother.1993;31(suppl E):73-79.
Daniel RR. Comparison of azithromycin and co-amoxiclav in the treatment of otitis media in children.  J Antimicrob Chemother.1993;31(suppl E):65-71.
Schaad UB. Multicentre evaluation of azithromycin in comparison with co-amoxiclav for the treatment of acute otitis media in children.  J Antimicrob Chemother.1993;31(suppl E):81-88.
Principi N. Multicentre comparative study of the efficacy and safety of azithromycin compared with amoxicillin/clavulanic acid in the treatment of paediatric patients with otitis media.  Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis.1995;14:669-676.
Khurana CM. A multicenter, randomized, open label comparison of azithromycin and amoxicillin/clavulanate in acute otitis media among children attending day care or school.  Pediatr Infect Dis J.1996;15(suppl):S24-S29.
McLinn S. A multicenter, double blind comparison of azithromycin and amoxicillin/clavulanate for the treatment of acute otitis media in children.  Pediatr Infect Dis J.1996;15(suppl):S20-S23.
Arguedas A, Loaiza C, Herrara M, Mohs E. Comparative trial of 3-day azithromycin versus 10-day amoxycillin/clavulante potassium in the treatment of children with acute otitis media with effusion.  Int J Antimicrob Agents.1996;6:233-238.
Rodriguez A. An open study to compare azithromycin with cefaclor in the treatment of children with acute otitis media.  J Antimicrob Chemother.1996;37(suppl C):63-69.
Aronovitz G. A multicenter, open label trial of azithromycin vs amoxicillin/clavulanate for the management of acute otitis media in children.  Pediatr Infect Dis J.1996;15(suppl):S15-S19.
Arguedas A, Loaiza C, Rodriguez F, Herrera ML.  et al.  Comparative trial of 3 days of azithromycin versus 10 days of clarithromycin in the treatment of children with acute otitis media with effusion.  J Chemother.1997;9:44-50.
Kurbasci M, Jones VF, Badgett JT, Thomas A. Two-week vs six-week followup for acute otitis media [abstract].  Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med.1996;150:19.
Berman S, Byrns PJ, Bondy J.  et al.  Otitis media-related antibiotic prescribing patterns, outcomes, and expenditures in a pediatric medicaid population.  Pediatrics.1997;100:585-592.
Harrison CJ, Marks MI, Welch DF. Microbiology of recently treated acute otitis media compared with previously untreated acute otitis media.  Pediatr Infect Dis.1985;4:641-646.
Faden H, Bernstein J, Brodsky L.  et al.  Effect of prior antibiotic treatment on middle ear disease in children.  Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol.1992;101:87-91.
Mills R, Uttley A, McIntyre M. Relationship between acute suppurative otitis media and chronic secretory otitis media: role of antibiotics.  J R Soc Med.1984;77:754-757.
Guillemot D, Carbon C, Balkau B.  et al.  Low dosage and long treatment duration of β-lactam: risk factors for carriage of penicillin-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae.  JAMA.1998;279:365-370.
Howie VM, Ploussard JH. The "In Vitro Sensitivity Test"—bacteriology of middle ear exudate.  Pediatrics.1969;44:940-944.
Canafax DM, Giebink GS. Clinical and pharmacokinetic basis for the antimicrobial treament of acute otitis media.  Otolaryngol Clin North Am.1991;24:859-874.
Borzak S, Ridker PM. Discordance between meta-analyses and large-scale randomized, controlled trials.  Ann Intern Med.1995;123:873-877.
Egger M, Smith GD, Schneider M.  et al.  Bias in meta-analysis detected by a simple, graphical test.  BMJ.1997;315:629-634.
Berlin JA. Does blinding of readers affect the results of meta-analyses?  Lancet.1997;350:185-186.
Schentag JJ. Antibiotic treatment of acute otitis media in children: dosing considerations.  Pediatr Infect Dis J.1995;14:S30-S33.
Rosenfeld RM. An evidence-based approach to approach to treating otitis media.  Pediatr Clin North Am.1996;43:1165-1181.
Eppes SC, Klein JD, Lewis LL. Ceftriaxone for acute otitis media.  Pediatrics.1997;100:157.
Boswell JB, Nienhuys TG. Patterns of persistent otitis media in the first year of life in aboriginal and non-aboriginal infants.  Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol.1996;105:893-900.

Figures

Graphic Jump Location
Figure 1.—Treatment outcomes at 8 to 19 days, 20 to 30 days, 30 to 40 days, and 90 days following initiation of therapy with more than 48 hours (5 days) or at least 7 days or more of treatment with a short-acting antibiotic. Summary and individual study odds ratios (ORs), including 95% confidence intervals, are plotted. The number of children assessed is specified in brackets. Odds ratios greater than 1 favor treatment with at least 7 days or more.
Graphic Jump Location
Figure 2.—Funnel plot of the odds ratios vs sample size for studies included in the meta-analysis of primary outcomes (≤1 month), excluding 1 trial with 17 children and an odds ratio of 13.34.

Tables

Table Graphic Jump LocationTable 1.—Methodologic Quality of Included Trials
Table Graphic Jump LocationTable 2.—Sensitivity Analyses of Primary Outcomes at 30 Days or Less and at 20 to 30 Days for Short-Acting Antibiotic Group*

References

Klein JO, Teele DW, Rosner BA.  et al.  Epidemiology of acute otitis media in Boston children from birth to seven years of age. In: Lim DJ, Bluestone CD, Klein JO, Nelson JD, eds. Recent Advances in Otitis Media With Effusion: Proceedings of the Fourth International Symposium. Toronto, Canada: BC Decker; 1988:6-8.
Froom J, Culpepper L, Grob P.  et al.  Diagnosis and antibiotic treatment of acute otitis media.  BMJ.1990;300:582-586.
McCaig LF, Hughes JM. Trends in antimicrobial drug prescribing among office-based physicians.  JAMA.1995;273:214-219.
Stool SE, Field MJ. The impact of otitis media.  Pediatr Infect Dis J.1989;8:S11-S14.
Berman S. Otitis media in developing countries.  Pediatrics.1995;96:126-131.
Mygind N, Meistrup-Larsen KI, Thomsen J, Thomsem VF, Josefsson K, Sorensen H. Penicillin in acute otitis media.  Clin Otolaryngol.1981;6:5-13.
Burke P, Bain J, Robinson D, Dunleavey J. Acute red ear in children.  BMJ.1991;303:558-562.
Van Buchem FL, Dunk JHM, Van't Hof MA. Therapy of acute otitis media: myringotomy, antibiotic or neither?  Lancet.1981;2:883-887.
Rosenfeld RM, Vertrees JE, Carr J.  et al.  Clinical efficacy of antimicrobial drugs for acute otitis media.  J Pediatr.1994;124:355-367.
Del Mar C, Glazziou P, Hayem M. Are antibiotics indicated as initial treatment for children with acute otitis media.  BMJ.1997;314:1526-1529.
Cohen ML. Epidemiology of drug resistance.  Science.1992;257:1050-1055.
Murray BE. Can antibiotic resistance be controlled?  N Engl J Med.1994;330:1229-1230.
Paradise JL. Managing otitis media: a time for change.  Pediatrics.1995;96:712-715.
Paradise JL. Short-course antimicrobial treatment for acute otitis media: not best for infants and young children.  JAMA.1997;278:1640-1642.
Pichichero ME, Cohen R. Shortened course of antibiotic therapy for acute otitis media, sinusitis, and tonsillopharyngitis.  Pediatr Infect Dis J.1997;16:680-695.
Gregoire G, Derderian F, Le Lorier J. Selecting the language of the publications included in a meta-analysis.  J Clin Epidemiol.1995;48:159-163.
Dickersin K, Scherer R, Lefebvre C. Identifying relevant studies for systematic reviews.  BMJ.1994;309:1286-1291.
Cook DJ, Sackett DL, Spitzer WO. Methodologic guidelines for systematic review of randomized control trials in health care from the Potsdam Consulation.  J Clin Epidemiol.1995;48:167-171.
Moher D, Jadad AR, Nichol G, Penman M, Tugwell P, Walsh S. Assessing the quality of randomized controlled trials.  Control Clin Trials.1995;16:62-73.
Jadad AR, Moore R, Carroll D.  et al.  Assessing the quality of reports of randomized clinical trials: is blinding necessary?  Control Clin Trials.1996;17:1-12.
Schulz KF, Chalmers I, Hayes R, Altman DG. Empirical evidence of bias.  JAMA.1995;273:408-412.
Chalmers TC, Celano P, Sacks HS, Smith Jr H. Bias in treatment assignment in controlled clinical trials.  N Engl J Med.1983;309:1358-1361.
Landis B, Koch GG. The measurement of observer agreement for categorical data.  Biometrics.1977;33:159-174.
Kaleida PH, Casselbrant ML, Rockette HE.  et al.  Amoxicillin or myringotomy or both for acute otitis media.  Pediatrics.1991;87:466-474.
Appelman CLM, Claessen QPL, Touw-Otten FWMM, Hordijk GJ, de Melker RE. Co-amoxiclav in recurrent acute otitis media: placebo controlled study.  BMJ.1991;303:1450-1452.
Hendrickse WA, Kusmiesz H, Shelton S, Nelson JD. Five vs ten days of therapy for acute otitis media.  Pediatr Infect Dis J.1988;7:14-23.
Oxman A. Preparing and maintaining systematic reviews. In: Cochrane Collaboration Handbook. Oxford, England: The Cochrane Collaboration; 1995.
Laupacis A, Sackett DL, Roberts RS. An assessment of clinically useful measures of the consequences of treatment.  N Engl J Med.1988;318:1728-1733.
Thompson SG. Why sources of heterogeneity in meta-analysis should be investigated?  BMJ.1994;309:1351-1355.
DerSimonian R, Laird N. Meta-analysis in clinical trials.  Control Clin Trials.1986;7:177-188.
Stickler GB, McBean JB. The treatment of acute otitis media in children.  JAMA.1964;187:85-89.
Rubenstein MM, McBean JB, Hedgecock LD, Stickler GB. The treatment of acute otitis media in children, III: a third clinical trial.  AJDC.1965;100:308-313.
Stickler GB, Rubenstein MM, McBean JB, Hedgecock LD, Hugstad A, Griffing T. Treatment of acute otitis media in children, IV: a fourth clinical trial.  AJDC.1967;114:123-130.
Jacobson JA, Metcalf TJ, Parkin JL, Wenerstrom LG. Evaluation of cefaclor and amoxycillin in the treatment of acute otitis media.  Postgrad Med J.1979;55(suppl 4):39-41.
Harrison CJ, Chartrand SA, Pichichero ME. Microbiologic and clinical aspects of a trial of once daily cefixime compared with twice daily cefaclor for treatment of acute otitis media in infants and children.  Pediatr Infect Dis J.1993;12:62-69.
Johnson CE, Carlin SA, Super DM.  et al.  Cefixime compared with amoxicillin for treatment of acute otitis media.  J Pediatr.1991;119:117-122.
Murph JR, Dusdieker LB, Booth B, Murph WE. Is treatment of acute otitis media with once-a-day amoxicillin feasible? Results of a pilot study.  Clin Pediatr (Phila).1993;32:528-534.
Spencer RC, Hannington J, Fraser S, Mason T. Cefpodoxime proxetil vs co-amoxiclav in the treatment of acute infections of the ear, nose and throat in children-a multicentre randomized study. In: Program and abstracts of the 18th International Congress of Chemotherapy; June 27-July 2, 1993; Stockholm, Sweden. Abstract 851.
MacLoughlin GJF, Barreto DG, de la Torre C, Pinetta EA, del Castilllo F, Palma L. Cefpodoxime proxetil suspension compared with cefaclor suspension for treatment of acute otitis media in paediatric patients.  J Antimicrob Chemother.1996;37:565-573.
Jenner PN, Tierney HE, Carle WK. A general practice study of a new approach to the use of antibiotics in the treatment of acute otitis media in children aged three and over.  Br J Clin Pract.1987;41:820-826.
Gehanno P, Taillebe M, Denis P.  et al.  Short-course cefotaxime compared with five-day co-amoxyclav in acute otitis media in children.  J Antimicrob Chemother.1990;26(suppl A):29-36.
Mandel EM, Casselbrant ML, Rockette HE, Bluestone CD, Kurs-Lasky M. Efficacy of 20- versus 10-day antimicrobial treatment for acute otitis media.  Pediatrics.1995;96:5-13.
Scott HV, Pannowitz D, Ketelbey JW. Cefixime: clinical trial against otitis media and tonsillitis.  N Z Med J.1990;103:25-26.
O'Doherty B. An open comparative study of azithromycin versus cefaclor in the treatment of patients with upper respiratory tract infections.  J Antimicrob Chemother.1996;37(suppl C):71-81.
Varsano I, Volovitz B, Horev Z.  et al.  Single IM dose of ceftriaxone (CRO) compared to 10 days amoxicillin-clavulanate augmentin (AUG) for therapy of acute otitis media (AOM) in children. Paper presented at: Sixth International Congress for Infectious Disease, Session 117; April 1994; Prague, Czech Republic. Abstract 1059.
Chaput de Saintongue DM, Levine DF, Temple Savage I.  et al.  Trial of three-day and ten-day courses of amoxycillin in otitis media.  BMJ.1982;284:1078-1081.
Ingvarsson L, Lundgren K. Penicillin treatment of acute otitis media in children.  Acta Otolaryngol.1982;94:283-287.
Meistrup-Larsen KI, Sorensen H, Johnsen NJ, Thomsen J, Mygind N, Sederberg-Olsen J. Two versus seven days penicillin treatment for acute otitis media.  Acta Otolaryngol.1983;96:99-104.
Ploussard JH. Evaluation of five days of cefaclor vs ten days of amoxicillin therapy in acute otitis media.  Curr Ther Res.1984;36:641-645.
Bain J, Murphy E, Ross F. Acute otitis media.  Br Med J Clin Res Ed.1985;291:1243-1246.
Jones R, Bain J. Three-day and seven-day treatment in acute otitis media: a double-blind antibiotic trial.  J R Coll Gen Pract.1986;36:356-358.
Puczynski MS, Stankiewicz JA, O'Keefe JP. Single dose amoxicillin treatment of acute otitis media.  Laryngoscope.1987;97:16-18.
Boulesteix J, Dubreuil C, Moutot M, Rezvani Y, Rosembaum Not Available. Cefpodoxime proxetil 5 jours versus cefixime 8 jours, dans le traitement des otites moyennes aigues de l'enfant.  Med Mal Infect.1995;25:534-539.
Gooch WM, Blair E, Puopolo A.  et al.  Effectiveness of five days of therapy with cefuroxime axetil suspension for treatment of acute otitis media.  Pediatr Infect Dis J.1996;15:157-164.
Adam D. Five-day therapy with cefpodoxime versus ten-day treatment with cefaclor in infants with acute otitis media.  Infection.1995;23:398-399.
Kafetzis DA, Astra H, Mitropoulos L. Five-day versus ten-day treatment of acute otitis media with cefprozil.  Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis.1997;16:283-286.
Cohen R, de La Rocque F, Boucherat M.  et al.  Etude randomisee cefpodoxime proxetil 5 jours versus amoxicilline-acide calvulanique 8 jours dans le traitment de l'otite moyenne aigue de l'enfant.  Med Mal Infect.1997;27:596-602.
Hoberman A, Paradise JL, Burch DJ.  et al.  Equivalent efficacy and reduced occurrence of diarrhea from a new formulation of amoxicillin/clavulanate potassium (Augmentin) for treatment of acute otitis media in children.  Pediatr Infect Dis J.1997;16:463-470.
Varsano I, Frydman M, Amir J, Alpert G. Single intramuscular dose of ceftriaxone as compared to 7-day amoxicillin therapy for acute otitis media in children.  Chemotherapy.1988;34(suppl 1):39-46.
Green SM, Rothrock SG. Single-dose intramuscular ceftriaxone for acute otitis media in children.  Pediatrics.1993;91:23-30.
Chamberlain JM, Boenning DA, Waisman Y, Ochsenschlager DW, Klein BL. Single-dose ceftriaxone versus 10 days of cefaclor for otitis media.  Clin Pediatr (Phila).1994;33:642-646.
Barnett ED, Teele DW, Klein JO, Cabral HJ, Kharasch SJ. Comparison of ceftriaxone and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole for acute otitis media.  Pediatrics.1997;99:23-28.
Petalozza G, Cioce C, Facchini M. Azithromycin in upper respiratory tract infections clinical trial in children with otitis media.  Scand J Infect Dis Suppl.1992;83:22-25.
Mohs E, Rodriguez-Solares A, Rivas E, Hoshy ZE. A comparative study of azithromycin and amoxycillin in paediatric patients with acute otitis media.  J Antimicrob Chemother.1993;31(suppl E):73-79.
Daniel RR. Comparison of azithromycin and co-amoxiclav in the treatment of otitis media in children.  J Antimicrob Chemother.1993;31(suppl E):65-71.
Schaad UB. Multicentre evaluation of azithromycin in comparison with co-amoxiclav for the treatment of acute otitis media in children.  J Antimicrob Chemother.1993;31(suppl E):81-88.
Principi N. Multicentre comparative study of the efficacy and safety of azithromycin compared with amoxicillin/clavulanic acid in the treatment of paediatric patients with otitis media.  Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis.1995;14:669-676.
Khurana CM. A multicenter, randomized, open label comparison of azithromycin and amoxicillin/clavulanate in acute otitis media among children attending day care or school.  Pediatr Infect Dis J.1996;15(suppl):S24-S29.
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