Ear tube insertion involves placing tubes through the eardrums. The eardrum is the thin layer of tissue that separates the outer and middle ear.
Note: This article focuses on ear tube insertion in children. However, most of the information could also apply to adults with similar symptoms or problems.
Myringotomy; Tympanostomy; Ear tube surgery; Pressure equalization tubes; Ventilating tubes
While the child is asleep and pain-free (
Then, a small tube is placed through the eardrum. The tube allows air to flow in so that pressure is the same on both sides of the eardrum. Also, trapped fluid can flow out of the middle ear. This prevents hearing loss and reduces the risk of ear infections.
Why the Procedure Is Performed
Ear tube insertion may be done when fluid builds up behind your child’s eardrum and:
Does not go away after 3 months and both ears are affected
Does not go away after 6 months and fluid is only in one ear
Ear tubes are also sometimes used for people of any age who have:
- A severe ear infection that spreads to nearby bones (mastoiditis) or the brain, or that damages nearby nerves
- Injury to the ear after sudden changes in pressure from flying or deep sea diving
Risks of ear tube insertion include:
Drainage from the ear
- Hole in the eardrum that does not heal after the tube falls out
These problems do not usually last long. They also do not usually cause problems in children. Your doctor can explain these complications in more detail.
The risks for any anesthesia are:
- Breathing problems
- Reactions to medicines
The risks for any surgery are:
Before the Procedure
Your child’s ear doctor may ask for a medical history and physical exam of your child before the procedure is done. A hearing test is also recommended before the procedure is done.
Always tell your child’s doctor or nurse:
- What drugs your child is taking. Include drugs, herbs, and vitamins you bought without a prescription
- What allergies your child may have to any medicines, latex, tape, or skin cleaner
On the day of the surgery:
- Your child will usually be asked not to drink or eat anything after midnight the night before the surgery.
- Give your child a small sip of water with any drugs your doctor told you to give your child.
- Your child’s doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.
- The doctor will make sure your child is healthy enough for surgery. This means your child has no signs of illness or infection. If your child is ill, the surgery may be delayed.
After the Procedure
Children usually stay in the recovery room for a short time and leave the hospital the same day as the ear tubes are inserted. Your child may be groggy and fussy for an hour or so while waking up from anesthesia. Your child’s doctor may prescribe ear drops or antibiotics for a few days after the surgery.
After this procedure, most parents report that their children:
Have fewer ear infections
Recover more quickly from infections
If the tubes do not fall out on their own in a few years, an ear specialist may have to remove them. If ear infections return after the tubes fall out, another set of ear tubes can be inserted.
Related:Ear tube surgery – what to ask your doctor , Chronic, Otitis, Earache, Ear discharge, Hearing loss, Ear barotrauma