This surgery involves placing a small tube in one or both eardrums to drain fluid from the middle ear.
Serous otitis media is a condition in which fluid settles in the middle ear, causing persistent (chronic) inflammation and infection. This may happen after a cold, an acute ear infection or a series of ear infections. The fluid often persists even after the infection is gone and can cause hearing loss, speech problems and long-term damage to the ear.
If fluid in the middle ear does not go away on its own, or continues to cause symptoms, surgery may be recommended to drain the fluid. A tympanotomy (also known as myringotomy) is a procedure in which a small surgical cut is made in an eardrum. This minor surgical procedure involves placing a small tube into one or both eardrums. The tube helps to drain excess fluid from the middle ear. In some cases, a tympanotomy is done without placement of tubes in the eardrum, but this is uncommon.
If fluid has been present in the middle ear for more than a few months, or there have been frequent ear infections, your child may be referred to a specialist (otolaryngologist or audiologist) for evaluation and treatment. The specialist may test hearing and recommend placement of a tube into the eardrum to drain fluid from the middle ear. This procedure is usually done as a day surgery with light anesthesia. The procedure time is quite short, usually about 20 minutes. (The tube generally falls out on its own within a year.)
If your healthcare provider recommends placement of these tubes, prior to surgery tell him or her about any medications your child is taking (including over-the-counter medications and supplements). Ask about specific instructions to follow before surgery. These may include:
What should I ask a healthcare provider before having tubes placed in my child's ear?
Make sure you understand the treatment plan, any possible alternatives and what medications are recommended (including possible side effects).
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