We report a unique case in which a 57-year-old man with an 8-year history of late recurrent post-tympanostomy tube otorrhea (PTTO) was found to harbor Bacillus subtilis, an aerobic endospore-forming bacillus that is typically resistant to chemical and physical agents because of its unique life cycle. Removal of the patient's tympanostomy tube resulted in complete resolution of his long-standing otorrhea. We also review the etiologies of and treatment strategies for early, late, chronic, and recurrent PTTO. We conclude that regardless of the etiology, a patient with persistent or recurrent PTTO should consider undergoing removal of the ventilation tube.
Most of the pathology that occurs in the middle ear and mastoid cavity is the result of eustachian tube dysfunction. A failure of middle ear air pressure to equalize results in atelectasis that can lead to several potentially serious pathologies, including middle ear effusion, hearing loss, and cholesteatoma.