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Ear Tubes (cont.)

Ear Tubes During the Procedure

Generally, the entire procedure from departure of the child from the preoperative area to the recovery room takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Once the child is under anesthesia, the procedure to insert the ear tubes (called a myringotomy and tube insertion) usually takes 2 to 3 minutes to complete.

Using magnification under an operating microscope, the doctor begins by making a small hole in the eardrum in an area where the membrane has the least vibration. The fluid in the middle ear is then aspirated by suction, and the tympanostomy tube is placed in the opening. This tube allows air to enter the ear and allows fluid to drain. Often antibiotic/steroid ear drops are inserted to prevent blood or secretions from clotting in the tube. The drops are then given to the caregiver with instructions on further use.

The child's recovery from the procedure is brief (10-15 minutes) unless preoperative sedation was used. Pain is usually minimal to absent. Hearing is generally improved immediately.

Sometimes when ear tubes are placed, the surgeon may recommend removal of the adenoid, an area of lymphoid tissue that is located behind the palate near the opening of the Eustachian tube. This is most often recommended if the patient has had previous ear tube placements or chronic nasal congestion, infection, or obstruction to breathing at night (apnea).

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