Ear Tube Insertion
Alternate Names : Myringotomy, Tympanostomy, Ear Tube Surgery
Ear tube insertion is a surgical procedure used to drain fluid from the middle ear. In this procedure, a small cut is made in the eardrum. Next, special tubes, called PE tubes, are placed in the ear to allow fluid to drain from the middle ear. These tubes also allow air to circulate through the area behind the middle ear.
Usually the eustachian tubes, which connect the back of the throat behind the nose to the middle ear, allow air to get into the space behind the eardrum. Air is needed in this space to allow the eardrum to move and function correctly. When air is not present in this space, fluid can build up and bacteria can grow. This can cause ear infections. Inserting PE tubes gives the eustachian tubes time to grow and begin to function better.
Most ear tubes fall out on their own with 3 to 18 months of the procedure. The most common time is between 6 and 9 months. A healthcare provider will usually re-examine the ear periodically to see if the tubes are still in place and working well or to see if they have fallen out. A person may not always see the tube if it falls out.
Who is a candidate for the procedure?
Ear tube insertion may be recommended for people, especially children, who have:
eustachian tubes that are immature or have not formed correctly while a child is young
recurrent ear infections, called chronic otitis media, despite the use of antibiotics
persistent, severe ear pain unrelieved with pain medications
hearing loss due to fluid in the eardrum, which can cause problems with speech development
complications from ear infections, including inflammation or infection of other parts of the ear and jaw
How is the procedure performed?
Usually a person is given a general anesthesia to temporarily put him or her to sleep. Next, a small cut is made in the eardrum, and any fluid is suctioned out. The surgeon will then insert a small tube through the cut. This tube allows fluid to continue to drain from the middle ear to the outer ear and allows air to enter the middle ear.