Myringotomy with Tube Placement
A myringotomy is a surgical procedure which is a hole that is deliberately placed in the ear drum to allow the fluid trapped behind the middle ear to discharge, and to allow air to reenter the middle ear. Myringotomies are frequently used to treat glue ear and recurring ear infections that do not respond to antibiotics.
Frequently, at the same time a myringotomy is performed, small tubes called pressure equalization or “PE” tubes are placed in the hole created by the myringotomy to keep that hole open. In younger children, this procedure must be done under general anesthesia due to the need to keep the child extremely still, but as children get older and in adults, the procedure can actually be done in the office with little discomfort.
Myringotomy with PE tube placement stops infections completely in over 90% of children with recurrent infection that do not respond to other less invasive treatments. Surgery is recommended for fluid present for over 2-3 months, a high number of recurrent infections, a complication from an infection and other more specialized reasons.
PE tubes are meant to be temporary and will fall out over time. If the pattern of middle ear fluid and infections begin again, the tubes may have to be replaced. If a long term solution is needed, there are more permanent tubes available.