If your child has been plagued with a constant ear infection, one of our ear, nose and throat doctors may have suggested ear tube placement.
Through this procedure, a small pressure equalization (PE) tube is inserted into the eardrum to alleviate pressure and drain trapped fluid.
A myringotomy, or ear tube placement, is an outpatient procedure where an otolaryngologist uses a surgical microscope to make a small incision in the eardrum. Without the ear tube, the incision in the eardrum would naturally heal within a few days. The tube keeps the hole open in order to allow fluid the middle ear to drain and to equalize the pressure in the ear.
Ear tubes are used to treat:
- Recurrent and chronic ear infections (otitis media)
- Persistent, antibiotic-resistant bacterial ear infections
- Fluid in the middle ear that does not drain for several months after an infection
- Eustachian tube dysfunction, which occurs when the tube that travels from the ear down the back of the throat is blocked or isn’t functioning properly.
How long are ear tubes in place?
Short-term ear tubes are typically in place for six to 18 months while long-term tubes may remain for many years, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.
How are ear tubes removed?
Typically, as the eardrum heals, it naturally “pushes” the tubes out. They then slide out of the ear canal—most people aren’t even aware that they are gone.
Do ear tubes ever get stuck?
It’s not common, but sometimes ear tubes may not fall out on their own or they become stuck in the ear wax in the ear canal. Dr. Bane will closely examine your eardrum during follow-up appointments. If the tube is within the ear canal, we can use micro-instruments to gently remove it during your appointment.
However, sometimes the tube remains in the eardrum. If this is the case, a brief procedure may be needed to remove it. Since the tube has remained in the eardrum, the eardrum has not been able to heal or close the surgical incisions. This means that once the tube is removed, we may need to close the hole as well.
Benefits of Ear Tube Placement
A simple myringotomy can save your child from a series of painful, chronic ear infections. Often for adults, we can perform this minor procedure in our office. Children aren’t the only ones who can benefit—we have also seen adults show improvement after the fluid is allowed to drain from their middle ear.
If you’d like to know if this is an appropriate treatment for you or your child, please contact us. We’ll be glad to answer all your questions.