The aim of this study was to compare the prevalence of the different types of eardrum pathology in a cohort of adults not previously treated by grommet insertion with corresponding findings obtained in a cohort previously treated with grommet insertion.
A cohort born in 1955 were invited to a screening examination including otomicroscopy. In the untreated cohort, retraction of Shrapnell's membrane was found in four per cent of the ears compared to 20 per cent in the cohort treated with grommets. Tensa pathology, including atrophy and myringosclerosis, was found in six per cent of the ears in the untreated cohort and in 17 per cent in the treated cohort. Normal eardrums were found in 91 per cent of the ears. Despite the increased awareness of secretory otitis, as well as the increased rate of surgical treatment, the prevalence of eardrum pathology seems to be increasing. The reasons for this are discussed.