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Tympanostomy (Ear Tube) Procedure

During surgery, the ENT specialist removes the fluid from your child’s middle ear and places a tiny tube in the eardrum. This tube creates a very small tunnel between the outer ear canal and the middle ear. This tunnel balances air pressure on both sides of the eardrum and prevents fluid buildup. In most cases, surgery can be done on both ears in less than 30 minutes. If adenoid problems are also being treated, surgery takes a little longer.

Making a Slit

Once your child is asleep, the ear canal is cleaned. Then, using an operating microscope and special surgical instruments, the ENT specialist makes a small slit in the eardrum (tympanotomy).

Removing Any Fluid

A hollow instrument is passed through the slit in the eardrum. Using gentle suction, the fluid is withdrawn through the instrument. A fluid sample may be sent to a lab to identify whether it is viral or bacterial.

Image Putting in the Tube

After the fluid is removed, the ENT specialist inserts a tiny tube into the same slit in the eardrum (tympanostomy). The shape of the tube helps keep it in place. The ENT specialist chooses the the right tube for the best results.

Right After Surgery

After surgery is completed, your child will be taken to a recovery area. Once fully awake, your child should be able to go home.

Call the Doctor If:

  • The ear bleeds heavily or keeps bleeding after the first 48 hours.

  • Sticky or discolored fluid drains out of the ear after the first 48 hours.

  • Your otherwise healthy child has a high fever in the following ranges:

    • In an infant under 3 months old, a rectal temperature of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher

    • In a child 3 to 36, a rectal temperature of 102°F (39.0°C) or higher

    • In a child of any age who has a temperture of 103°F (39.4°C) or higher

    • A fever that lasts more than 24-hours in a child under 2 years old, or for 3 days in a child 2 years or older

    • Your child has had a seizure caused by the fever

  • You child is dizzy, confused, extremely drowsy, or has a change in mental state.

Online Medical Reviewer: Fraser, Marianne, MSN, RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Janas, Janice D, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Landers, Stephen A, MD
Last Review Date: 12/29/2011
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