Otitis media with effusion is the most common chronic condition of the ear in children. Children have small eustachian tubes and are unable to clear the mucus secreted in the mastoid and middle ear. Children with Down syndrome and craniofacial anomalies like cleft palate are more prone to develop middle ear infections. Fluid may also develop in the middle ear during an upper respiratory infection.
Persistent effusion can cause conductive hearing loss and predispose the child to develop recurrent acute suppurative otitis media.
Patients with recent upper respiratory tract infections (URI) are at increased risk for respiratory complications following general anesthesia (desaturations, laryngospasm, or bronchospasm). These can easily be treated with oxygen, positive pressure ventilation, and inhaled bronchodilators. However, some patients may have severe bronchospasm requiring postoperative intubation and intensive care unit admission or postoperative pneumonia. Deciding when to cancel cases is sometimes difficult because of a variety of factors. In general, patients who have only upper airway symptoms, no fever, and no history of pulmonary disease can be taken care of safely, but a discussion should be had with the family and the surgeon evaluating the risks and benefits of proceeding. The risks remain elevated for up to 6 weeks following an acute URI, so the timing of rescheduling a case can also be problematic.