A myringotomy is a surgical procedure in which a small incision is made in the tympanic membrane (eardrum) to remove fluid such as blood, pus, or water from the middle ear. The fluid is usually caused by an infection or allergies. In many cases, a small ear tube is inserted into the eardrum to maintain the drainage and allow ventilation into the middle ear. Other conditions that sometimes require myringotomy and tube placement include Eustachian Tube Dysfunction.
A myringotomy is performed to relieve pressure due to chronic fluid buildup in the middle ear that has not responded to other treatments. Although some adults may undergo this operation, myringotomies are most often performed on children. The procedure is usually performed on an outpatient basis with a general anesthetic. Some adults may only require a local anesthetic.
Children who suffer from repeat ear infections or fluid in the ear may benefit from ear tubes. Ear tubes are small plastic inserts that are surgically placed in the eardrum usually under general anesthesia. The insertion of ear tubes can help allow air to enter the middle ear, allow fluid out of the ear, prevent future buildup of fluid and restore hearing.
Adults or older children can require tubes for a condition known as Eustachian Tube Dysfunction. This is a condition resulting in negative pressure behind the eardrum causing retraction of the eardrum and/or hearing loss.
Ear tubes are usually considered when a child has fluid in both ears for more than 3 months or has repeated ear infections. The tubes drain the ears of fluid and allow ventilation into the middle ear. Ear tubes usually stay in place for 6-12 months, at which time they fall out on their own or are surgically removed. The tubes are usually effective in preventing ear infection and the buildup of pressure and fluid, but these conditions can return after the tubes are gone.
Ear tube surgery, known as a myringotomy, involves a tiny incision in the eardrum. Any fluid in the ear is removed and the tube is then inserted. The surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure and only takes 5 minutes. Most children can return to school and other activities the next day. Talk to your doctor today to find out if ear tubes are right for your child.