The aim of this study was to estimate the total number and rate of chronic otitis media (COM) operations and cholesteatoma surgeries in South Korea, using a nationwide survey which analysed a 13-year trend (2006–2018). This study also analysed the trend of COM operations and cholesteatoma surgeries according to year, sex, and age using a nationwide population-based database, and the 13-year trend was analysed according to age groups. This study used nationwide data from the National Health Information Database (NHID), which is a government-affiliated agency under the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare that supervises all medical activities in Korea. Retrospective medical data of patients of all ages were extracted from the NHID from January 2006 to December 2018 (NHIS-2018). This study was conducted by the Research Committee of the Korean Society of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, and the Korean Audiological Society reviewed and confirmed the study. There was a 1.5 fold increase in COM operation rates in 2018, compared to 2007 figures. The annual total number of COM operations was 5,935 in 2007, 8,999 in 2012 (peak), and 8,870 in 2018 (17 in 100,000). Meanwhile, the total annual number of cholesteatoma surgeries decreased from 3,502 in 2006 to 3,199 in 2018 (6 in 100,000). The rate of COM operations was higher (1.27 fold) in the female population than in the males in 2018. However, cholesteatoma surgery rates were higher (1.2 fold) in the male population than in the females in 2018. According to the 2018 data, COM operations were most commonly performed in patients in their 50s. COM operation rates increased rapidly in patients aged 51–80. In other age groups however, rates were constant or showed a decrease in figures, especially in the 40s age group (1st rank in 2006 to 3rd rank in 2018). According to the 2018 data, cholesteatoma surgery was most commonly performed in patients in their 50s. Cholesteatoma surgery rates increased dramatically from 2006 to 2018 in patients aged 0–10 years due to congenital cholesteatoma. Cholesteatoma surgery rates also increased in patients aged 61–80 years due to ageing population. Cholesteatoma surgery rates decreased in patients aged 41–50 years, ranking 1st in 2006 and 4th in 2018. In conclusion, the annual rate of COM operations was 0.017%, and no longer increases, but stabilizes/decreased after a peak point in the advanced country. The mean rate of cholesteatoma surgery was 0.006%, and decreased annually. There was female dominance in COM operations, but male dominance in cholesteatoma surgery. Major age groups of patients who underwent COM/cholesteatoma surgery were the 50s and 60s, and congenital cholesteatoma (0–10 years) accounted for about 20% of all cholesteatoma surgery.
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