Tympanostomy (with Myringotomy)
A tympanostomy involves the insertion of tubes to allow fluid to drain from the middle ear. The procedure involves:
- A general anesthetic (asleep, no pain). Children typically recover completely within a few hours.
- Myringotomy (removal of fluid) is performed first.
- After myringotomy, the doctor inserts a tube to allow continuous drainage of the fluid from the middle ear.
|Click the icon to see an illustrated series detailing ear tube insertion.|
Postoperative Effects. Tympanostomy is a simple procedure, and the child almost never has to spend the night in the hospital. Acetaminophen (Tylenol, generic) or ibuprofen (Advil, generic) is sufficient for any postoperative pain in most children. Some children, however, may need codeine or other powerful pain relievers.
Generally, the tubes stay in the eardrum for at least several months before coming out on their own. On rare occasions, they will need to be surgically removed.
Complications. Otorrhea, drainage of secretion from the ear, is the most common complication after surgery and can be persistent in some children. It is usually treated with antibiotic eardrops.
Review Date: 05/03/2011
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.