Ear tube surgery, sometimes called a myringotomy, is a procedure in which a small tube is inserted into the tissue of the eardrum. Generally, these procedures are performed in children who have trouble with inflammation, inflection, or buildup of fluids in the middle ear space.

Tube insertion surgery is not quite as common as it once was, in large part due to increased success with nonsurgical treatments. However, myringotomy is still performed with regularity to help children feel better and improve their hearing and speech in the long run. Check out these other ENT procedures Iowa City Ambulatory Surgical Center performs. 

Why is Tube Insertion Performed?

There are two primary reasons that tube insertion surgery is performed: either because the middle ear is not draining properly or because the middle ear is suffering from prolonged inflammation. There are many reasons why either of these issues may happen, such as:

  • Ear infection: This is the most common reason why the ears clog up, especially when you’re young. As a result, chronic ear infections are one of the primary reasons myringotomy is performed in children.
  • Persistent inflammation: This inflammation could be caused by injury or disease. If the inflammation does not subside in a timely manner or recurs consistently, myringotomy could be a viable solution.
  • Persistent trouble draining: Some children have a condition called otitis media with effusion, which simply means the ear does not drain and is often filled with fluid. This lack of drainage can lead to problems with health and with hearing.

While the underlying conditions may vary, the long-term negative impacts of inflammation and infection are strikingly similar. Some of those negative impacts may include:

  • Pain and discomfort: Ear infections can cause significant pain in children. 
  • Trouble hearing: As the middle ear swells or fills with fluid, it’s more challenging for sound to penetrate into the inner ear. This means that your child may experience trouble hearing.
  • Impaired speech development: Because these conditions affect children primarily, speech development is often a significant concern. For example, when toddlers cannot hear, they also have trouble picking up on linguistic development cues. As a result, the child may develop speech impairments that require a speech-language pathologist to address and correct.
Read Our Blog: Ear Infections In Children

What Happens During Myringotomy?

A myringotomy procedure usually only takes fifteen minutes or so to complete. But because the patients are usually small children, the surgery is performed under general anesthesia. This means that your child will not experience any discomfort during the ear tube insertion procedure.

During myringotomy, a surgeon will make a small incision into the tissue of the eardrum. Then, a tiny tube will be inserted into the tissue. The tube will rest there as the tissue heals, allowing sound to travel into the middle ear even if the surrounding area is inflamed or otherwise blocked with fluid.

Myringotomy is performed on an outpatient basis. Once the procedure is complete, your child will spend a few hours in recovery, where they will be watched for signs of complications due to the procedure or anesthesia. Once a few hours pass, your child will be ready to go home for the duration of their recovery!

Myringotomy Recovery

Allow your child to rest during the first couple of days after surgery. But your child’s normal activities won’t be significantly impacted after that point. Talk to your physician about the best way to manage any lingering pain or discomfort. Your child may also be prescribed antibiotic ear drops to help prevent any infection. Unless otherwise told by your ENT, your child will not have to wear earplugs when in the bath or swimming pool.

Your ENT will schedule a follow-up appointment between two and six weeks after the procedure to ensure everything is healing and in the proper place. 

After ear tube placement, there may be a small amount of ear drainage for 2 to 3 days after surgery. If the drainage persists after that time and is bloody, thick, or foul-smelling, call your doctor. 

Better Hearing and Better Health

Myringotomy can help children hear better and feel better–ensuring their continued linguistic and behavioral development. To find out more about how this procedure can be performed in an ambulatory surgery center instead of a hospital, talk to your ENT about a referral to the Iowa City Ambulatory Surgery Center. 

When To See An ENT Specialist For Your Child's Recurring Ear Infections

Seeing your child in pain and making regular trips to the doctor can be overwhelming, but there is hope. This resource can guide you in the right direction toward giving your child long-term relief. Download “When to See an ENT Specialist for Your Child’s Recurring Ear Infections” today!

  • When we arrived at Iowa City ASC early in the morning for my knee surgery I was met by a team of people who seemed glad to be at work and glad that I was in their facility. Their overall desire to discuss what they needed from me and to assist in meeting my needs was a welcomed situation. Each person truly impressed me with their professionalism and attitude.  The team was attentive to the situation at hand and I feel that contributed to the overall success of my surgery at Iowa City ASC.  I did not even know that my Knee Surgery was the first of this type performed at the ASC until we were ready to go home a few hours after surgery when it was mentioned in passing. The Iowa City ASC team made it seem as though this was an ongoing procedure or process so they should be applauded. Their experience, professionalism, training and smiles made my surgery at Iowa City ASC a success.

    John Weber