At ENTACC, our patients are our priority.

Tympanostomy Tube Overview

Although ear tube surgery is a relatively common procedure, surgery is not the first choice of treatment for middle ear infections. Antibiotics are usually the first course of treatment for bacterial ear infections; in many cases, acute ear infections may resolve without treatment of any kind. Many ear infections are viral and antibiotics do not help. These infections need to improve on their own, and only time can help them heal. But if your child’s ear infections recur frequently, or if your child has a hearing loss or speech delay, our doctors may suggest surgery to drain fluid from the middle ear and insert a ventilation tube. Because many children have had infections in both ears, surgery is typically performed in both ears.

A tiny tube, also called pressure equalization (PE) or tympanostomy tube, is inserted into the eardrum. It is designed to ventilate as well as equalize pressure in the middle ear. This will help prevent infection and the accumulation of fluid. Hearing can then be normalized. The tube does not impair hearing. It remains in place for about 6 to 18 months or more. Tympanostomy tubes greatly reduce the occurrence of further ear infections.

What to Expect

Steps during Surgery

The surgery will be performed in a hospital and your child will receive general anesthesia. The procedure generally takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Our doctors will make a small hole in the eardrum and remove fluid from the middle ear using suction. Because our doctors can reach the eardrum through the ear canal, there is no visible incision. Inserting a small metal or plastic tube into the hole in the eardrum finishes the procedure.

After Surgery

After surgery, your child will wake up in the recovery area. The total time spent in the hospital is a few hours. Very young children or those with additional medical problems may stay for a longer period of time.

Water may sometimes enter the middle ear through the tube. This is generally not a problem. Our doctors may or may not feel that earplugs are necessary for regular bathing or swimming. In most cases, surgery to remove a tympanostomy tube is unnecessary. The tube usually falls out on its own, pushed out as the eardrum heals. A tube generally stays in the ear anywhere from 6 to 18 months, depending on the type of tube used. If the tube remains in the eardrum beyond 2 or 3 years, it will likely need to be surgically removed in order prevent a perforation in the eardrum or accumulation of debris around the tube.

If you have any questions concerning your comfort or care, please contact our office at (610) 879-0068.

Erin O. from Downingtown, PA

“I had stopped taking my allergy medicine and ended up with the worse sinus infection of my life. The staff at Ear, Nose & Throat Associates of Chester County genuinely will provide you with the best care. I was overwhelmed by the kindness, concern, and sense of urgency everyone gave. My phone calls were returned promptly and time was made to see me in the office when it was an emergency.”

Connie J. from West Chester, PA

“I can say after years of coming to Ear, Nose & Throat Associates of Chester County, my relationship and trust with Dr. Marriotti has grown tremendously. He is personable, friendly and I appreciate his input with my hearing condition. The staff at Ear, Nose & Throat Associates of Chester County is always cheery and pleasant. I enjoy my visits and always leave feeling like I am in good hands.”

Dauna P. from University Lincoln, PA

“I am so grateful for the care Dr. Picariello has given for my complex and serious brain diagnosis. He has made such an impression on the way the process was handled. I shall never forget him and how humble he was when dealing with my condition. He is truly one of the best around and I am fortunate for his high ethical standards and professionalism.”

Kathy S. from Schwenksvile, PA

“The knowledge, encouragement, concern, and individual attention the doctors of Ear, Nose & Throat Associates of Chester County had demonstrated was far beyond my expectations. The office atmosphere is professional yet friendly. The doctors know their profession well and are able to explain in basic understandable terms. They made sure we were comfortable and took their time going over everything extensively.”

James B., from Coatesville, PA

“The allergy shot process has been a great experience and has prevented a reoccurrence of my nasal polyps, and decreased the need for my asthma inhaler. The allergy staff is excellent.”