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Ear Tube Insertion

Alternate Names

  • ear tube surgery
  • myringotomy
  • tympanostomy
  • Ear

Definition

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.

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.

Sources

Your Child's Health, Barton Schmitt, 1991. [hyperLink url="http://www.aap.org/policy/otitis.htm" linkTitle="www.aap.org/policy/otitis.htm"]www.aap.org/policy/otitis.htm[/hyperLink]

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