(Tympanostomy; Tympanotomy; Ear Tubes Surgery)
Reasons for Procedure
- To restore hearing loss caused by chronic fluid build-up and to prevent delayed speech development caused by hearing loss in children.
- To place tympanostomy tubes—these tubes help to equalize pressure. It may also help prevent recurrent ear infections and the accumulation of fluid behind the eardrum.
- To help treat an ear infection that is not responding to medical treatment.
- To take sample fluid from the middle ear to examine in the lab for the presence of bacteria or other infections.
- Chronic scarring
- Failure of the myringotomy incision in the eardrum to heal as expected, which may result in frequent drainage
- Hearing loss
- Injury to ear structures other than the eardrum
- Need for repeat surgery
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
- Blood tests
- Hearing test
- Tympanogram—a test that measures how well the eardrum responds to changes in pressure
- Examine the external ear and the eardrum with an instrument called an otoscope
- Arrange for a ride to and from the procedure
- Do not eat or drink anything for at least 8 hours before the procedure
Description of Procedure
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How Long Will It Take?
Will It Hurt?
- Replacing cotton in the ear canal used to absorb postsurgical drainage.
- Using ear drops a few times a day.
- Monitoring your ear for drainage if water gets inside your ear.
- Using ear plugs while swimming or bathing.
- Avoiding underwater swimming and diving until further notice.
- Not cleaning your ear after surgery or placing anything other than ear drops, cotton, or ear plugs into your ear.
Call Your Doctor
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the ear
- Pain that you cannot control with the medications you have been given
- Drainage from ear continues for more than four days after surgery
- Decreased hearing
- Cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, or severe nausea or vomiting
- Any other new concerns
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics http://www.healthychildren.org
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders http://www.nidcd.nih.gov
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology http://www.entcanada.org
The Hospital for Sick Children http://www.sickkids.ca
Acute otitis media. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated July 2, 2014. Accessed August 21, 2014.
Myringotomy and PE tubes. Baylor College of Medicine Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Communicative Sciences website. Available at: https://www.bcm.edu/healthcare/care-centers/otolaryngology/procedures/myringotomy-pe-tubes. Accessed August 21, 2014.
Myringotomy and PE tubes. The University of Chicago Children's Hospital website. Available at: http://www.uchicagokidshospital.org/specialties/ent/patient-guides/myringotomy.html. Accessed August 21, 2014.
9/25/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Rosenfeld RM, Schwartz SR, et al. Clinical practice guideline: Tympanostomy tubes in children—executive summary. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2013;149:8-16.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 08/2014 -
- Update Date: 09/30/2013 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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