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Ear Tubes (cont.)

Ear Tubes Risks

No surgical procedure is free of risks. Tympanostomy tube placement should be considered just as any other surgical procedure. While generally safe and quick, complications can occur with the procedure as with any procedure requiring anesthesia. It is equally important to select to have the procedure performed in a facility where experienced pediatric providers are found as it is to pick the surgeon.

Placement of tympanostomy tubes carries few long-term risks and usually many advantages when appropriate patient selection has taken place. Complications may include:

  • Persistent perforation at the tube site: This is often a function of failure of the ear to heal because of failure of the ear to resolve its underlying problem.
  • Scarring: Some increase in scarring may be noted, but this is generally more cosmetic than functional.
  • Persistent ear drainage (otorrhea): This may be seen in some children where the underlying disorder is that the Eustachian tube is "too open" or patulous. Children with down's syndrome, cleft palates, or cerebral palsy are more prone to this complication but healthy children may show the same problem.
  • Cholesteatoma or polyp formation: This is the invasion of skin into the middle ear from the rim of the hole for the tube. Most often this is seen in children who are not returned to the otolaryngologist for appropriate follow-up on a regular basis.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/25/2014
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