We report 2 cases of tuberculous otitis media that were diagnosed at Stony Brook University Hospital in New York since 1999. Both patients were women, aged 30 and 31 years. One patient had grown up in Russia, the other was a native-born American who had never left the East Coast region of the United States. Both patients had been symptomatic for many months; one complained of chronic otorrhea, and the other reported otorrhea, hearing loss, and discomfort. Neither patient responded to medical management, and both ultimately underwent surgery. One was diagnosed after surgical pathology revealed acid-fast bacilli on frozen-section analysis. In the other, pathology revealed chronic inflammation and granulomata, but stains were negative and her diagnosis was delayed for almost 2 years. We also review 9 other cases of tuberculous otitis media in the United States that have been reported in the literature since 1990. Our review suggests that the number of cases is rising in areas where tuberculosis is most common''that is, in major U.S. cities. Although 3 of these 9 cases occurred as reactivation disease in immigrants, most might have occurred as a result of local transmission. Clinicians should maintain a high degree of suspicion for tuberculosis in patients with chronic otitis symptoms, particularly those who are at higher risk of exposure to tuberculosis.
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