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A Multi-centre Prospective Study to Improve Outcomes of Necrotising Otitis Externa in the UK

Status:  In follow-up

Recruited: 356 (across all sites)


Funding:  Dunhill Medical Trust; Mason Medical Trust; BMA Kathleen Harper; Antibiotic Research UK; Oxford Academic Health Partners

Necrotising Otitis Externa (NOE) is a severe ear infection which invades the ear canal and reaches the base of the skull. It can affect people with diabetes or poor immune systems, but it most commonly affects elderly patients. In the worst cases, NOE can lead to permanent paralysis of part of the face or long term problems with swallowing. NOE used to be a rare condition, but the number of cases has increased recently; we do not know why. Furthermore, there are no national or international guidelines for the diagnosis or treatment of this disease. This means that there is wide variability in how NOE is treated across the UK and the best strategy is not known.

To ensure that patients receive optimal care, we are keeping records of how and where NOE is diagnosed and treated, and which treatments are successful. We will use this information to investigate what the risk factors are for NOE, if scans and surgical samples are the best way to diagnose this disease, and which type and dose of antibiotics work best.

A network of more than 80 doctors across the UK are helping with this study. In conjunction with the National Infection Trainee Collaborative for Audit and Research (NITCAR), the UK NOE Collaborative is the first group of specialists to work together on this disease.



Listen to this recording of patients and their carers describe the symptoms of NOE and the lifechanging effect this infection has had on their lives. We hope that through our work we can raise the profile of this condition, accelerate referral from primary care to specialist care, optimise diagnosis and management and so improve the outcome of patients with this debilitating condition.