Computed tomography scanning is expensive, exposes the patient to radiation and offers no useful information that would improve initial management. CT scanning may be appropriate in patients with focal neurologic findings, a history of trauma or chronic ear disease.

Sudden hearing loss is distinct from progressive loss and chronic ear disease. Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) can be described as at least 30dB sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) in at least three consecutive frequencies within a three-day period.

Supporting evidence

  • Stachler RJ, Chandrasekhar SS, Archer SM, et al. Clinical practice guideline: Sudden hearing loss. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2012;146(IS):S1-35.
  • Tarshish Y, Leschinski A, Kenna M. Pediatric sudden sensorineural hearing loss: Diagnosed causes and response to intervention. International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology 2013;77(4):553–9.

Related recommendations

By condition or symptom

Oral antibiotics have significant adverse effects and do not provide adequate coverage of the bacteria that cause most episodes; in contrast, topically administered products do provide coverage for these organisms. Avoidance of oral antibiotics can reduce the spread of antibiotic resistance and the risk of opportunistic infections.

A discharge is uncomplicated when it is not associated with any other symptom, for example fever, pain or swelling of the ear canal.

Supporting evidence

  • Goldblatt EL, Dohar J, Nozza RJ, et al. Topical ofloxacin versus systemic amoxicillin/clavulanate in purulent otorrhea in children with tympanostomy tubes. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol 1998;46:91-101.
  • Rosenfeld RM, Schwartz SR, Pynnonen MA, et al. Clinical Practice Guideline: Tympanostomy tubes in children. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2013;149(IS): S1-35.

Related recommendations

By medicine or treatment

Oral antibiotics have significant adverse effects and do not provide adequate coverage of the bacteria that cause most episodes; in contrast, topically administered products do provide coverage for these organisms. Avoidance of oral antibiotics can reduce the spread of antibiotic resistance and the risk of opportunistic infections.

Supporting evidence

  • Rosenfeld RM, Schwartz SR, Cannon CR, et al. Clinical practice guideline: Acute otitis externa. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2014;150(IS):S1-24.
  • Wipperman J. Otitis externa. Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice 2014;41:1–9.

Related recommendations

By condition or symptom

By medicine or treatment

Imaging of the paranasal sinuses, including plain film radiography, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is unnecessary in patients who meet the clinical diagnostic criteria for uncomplicated acute rhinosinusitis. Acute rhinosinusitis is defined as up to four weeks of purulent nasal drainage (anterior, posterior or both) accompanied by nasal obstruction, facial pain-pressure-fullness or both. Imaging is costly and exposes patients to radiation. Imaging may be appropriate in patients with a complication of acute rhinosinusitis, patients with comorbidities that predispose them to complications and patients in whom an alternative diagnosis is suspected.

Supporting evidence

  • Rosenfeld RM, Piccirillo JF, Chandrasekhar SS, et al. Clinical practice guideline (update): adult sinusitis. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2015;152(2S):S1-39.
  • Ebell MH, McKay B, Guilbault R, et al. Diagnosis of acute rhinosinusitis in primary care: a systematic review of test accuracy. British Journal of General Practice 2016;66(650):e612-32.

Related recommendations

By condition or symptom

Examination of the larynx with mirror or fibre optic scope is the primary method for evaluating patients with hoarseness. Imaging is unnecessary in most patients and is both costly and has potential for radiation exposure. After laryngoscopy, evidence supports the use of imaging to further evaluate 1) vocal fold paralysis, or 2) a mass or lesion of the larynx.

It is essential to have the larynx examined by a specialist if the hoarseness has not resolved within 4 weeks.

Supporting evidence

  • Schwartz SR, Cohen SM, Dailey SH, et al. Clinical practice guideline: hoarseness (dysphonia). Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2009;141:S1-31.
  • Mau T. Diagnostic evaluation and management of hoarseness. Medical Clinics of North America 2010;94(5):945–60.

Related recommendations

By condition or symptom


Last reviewed 17 March 2017