What is Ear Tube Surgery?
By the age of 5, children usually experience at least 1 episode of ear infection. Most of the ear infections resolve with the help of medications. However, sometimes frequent ear infections or persistent fluid collection in the middle ear can become a chronic problem. It can lead to issues like continued sickness, ear pain, hearing loss, speech issues and difficulty sleeping. In such cases, an ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat) specialist can recommend a procedure called Bilateral Myringotomy and Tubes or BM-T.
BM-T is a surgical procedure in which the surgeon inserts small tubes in the child’s eardrum to allow the air to pass through. This helps the fluid collected inside the middle ear to flow out or dry up, which potentially reduces the symptoms of middle ear infection like pain and pressure. Ear tubes are minute cylinders and are also called myringotomy tubes, ventilation tubes, tympanostomy tubes or pressure equalization tubes.
Usually, these tubes are not removed from the ears and they fall out on their own after 6-8 months as the eardrum heals. However, if the tubes remain in the child’s ears for more than 2-3 years, they are removed by the doctor.
Although ear infections occur most commonly in children, they can also occur in teens and adults and can cause speech problems, hearing loss and changes in the eardrum.
What Diagnoses are Treated with Ear Tube Surgery?
According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, more than half a million children undergo ear tube surgeries every year, making it the most common childhood surgery done under anesthesia. The doctor may recommend a BM-T if:
- There is hearing loss due to fluid collection in the ear
- There is delayed speech development
- There are recurrent middle ear infections (acute otitis media)
- Ear infection is not responding to medicines
How Does Someone Prepare for Ear Tube Surgery?
Your ENT surgeon will give you specific instructions about what your child should eat or drink one day before the surgery. Since BM-T is usually done under general anesthesia, your child should not eat or drink at least 8 hours before the procedure. Also, you should inform the doctor about the medications your child is taking.
What is the Recovery Process for Ear Tube Surgery?
The patient wakes up in the recovery room and is usually sent home immediately. He/she may experience slight postoperative pain, irritability and nausea. Specific instructions are provided by the ENT specialist about how to take care of the ears after surgery. Some medications, including ear drops, will be prescribed by the doctor. Complete healing usually occurs within 3-4 weeks. Hearing loss due to the presence of fluid in the middle ear quickly gets resolved after surgery. Children with language, speech or balance problems may take several weeks to improve.
Why choose Treasure Valley Hospital for Ear Tube Surgery?
Treasure Valley Hospital is Idaho’s #1 physician-owned hospital. We have some of the top surgeons in Idaho who are experienced and well versed in the latest medical/surgical techniques. Our surgical and clinical staff specialize in caring for orthopedic, ENT and neurosurgical patients. Our goal is to provide high-quality, low-cost personalized care to each patient.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor.