An ear tube also called a tympanostomy tube is frequently used to help children who have chronic ear infections. The procedure can also be helpful for adults, although the surgery is not as common as it is in younger patients. During this procedure, called a myringotomy, a small incision is made in the eardrum. Then an ear tube — also called a PE tube—is inserted to help equalize pressure and drain any fluid that has become trapped behind the eardrum. The tubes typically fall out within nine months as the incision heals although some may need to be removed by a doctor.
An ear tube insertion is when a doctor inserts tiny tubes, known as tympanostomy tubes or grommets, into the eardrum to reduce the occurrence of ear infections and allow drainage of excess fluids. The procedure is very common and poses minimal risks. An ear tube insertion is more common for children, who tend to suffer ear infections more often than adults. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, ear tube insertion is the most common childhood surgery performed with anesthesia.
Ear tubes are small, hollow cylinders made of plastic or metal that are inserted into the tympanic membrane eardrum during a surgery called a myringotomy. Ear tubes are often used in children who have had several middle ear infections acute otitis media , or infections that have lasted longer than three months despite treatment. They are also used for people who are having trouble hearing because of a buildup of fluid effusion in the middle ear. If these conditions are not treated, they can lead to larger problems, such as difficulties with speech or permanent hearing loss. In addition to draining fluid from the ear, ear tubes let air in to prevent buildup of fluid in the middle ear.
A myringotomy is a procedure to create a hole in the ear drum to allow fluid that is trapped in the middle ear to drain out. In many cases, a small tube is inserted into the hole in the ear drum to help maintain drainage. Hearing loss due to fluid build-up should improve as well.