Published: Feb. 19, 2010
Updated: Oct. 5, 2010
Ear tubes are tiny plastic tubes that are placed in the ear drum to serve several purposes. Ear tubes are often offered as treatment for children with chronic and recurrent ear infections.
First, they allow pressure to equalize between the middle ear and outside world similar to the job done naturally by the Eustachian tube. This helps to prevent accumulation of liquid in the middle ear and its effects on hearing and risk of infection.
Second, the tubes allow infection to drain out of the ear without causing severe ear pain and the rare but serious risks of ear infections.
Third, they allow us to treat any infections directly by using antibiotic drops that go into the ear canal rather than a prescription by mouth.
Tubes normally fall out on their own approximately nine to 12 months after placement. Most children do not require tube replacement unless they begin having fluid build up or recurrent ear infections again.
We call the procedure myringotomy and tympanostomy tube placement.
This procedure is performed under general anesthesia, with your child totally asleep but breathing on his or her own and usually with only a mask and not a breathing tube.
Using a microscope, it takes five to 10 minutes to place most tubes by placing a tiny incision in the ear drum, using a tiny vacuum to remove any accumulated fluid or infection in the middle ear and then inserting the tiny plastic or silastic tube.
Yes, but only moderately for the first afternoon. We recommend acetaminophen (Tylenol) to help with the pain.
Call your doctor's office if your child experiences any of the following: