Children’s ear tube surgery is performed as a treatment for reoccurring inflammation of the middle ear or secretory otitis media (so called glue ear). In secretory otitis, resilient, glue-like secretion forms into the middle ear, generally after chronic ear inflammations. If the secretion can not escape the middle ear, it becomes viscous (sticky) and impairs hearing. The function of the tubes that are inserted is to aerate (ventilate) the middle ear, which helps the mucous membrane of the ear to heal.

Procedure

In the procedure, a small incision is made in the eardrum, the possible secretion is sucked, and a small aerating tube is inserted. The tube is either silicone or metal. Children’s operation is usually performed under general anaesthesia, often in connection with adenoidectomy.

Recovery

The recovery is often quick if other operations have not been performed at the same time. Pain is usually mild. If the ears have been inflamed at the time of the procedure, secretion may discharge from the ears for a few days.

The patient should be cautious after the tube surgery. Diving without earplugs is not allowed. In general, the patient must protect the ears from water if ear inflammations are chronic (secretion from the ear).The aerating tubes usually fall off within 6–12 months, and the ear drum heals up by itself.

On the day of the operation, the child requires rest and adult supervision.

Treatment of pain

If necessary, you may give the child non-prescription painkillers.

Follow-up visit

The child comes to follow-up visits regularly until the tube has fallen away. The visits are scheduled to the health centre so that the first visit is approximately after a month and after that at intervals of 3–6 months.

Contacts

If secretion flows from the ear for an extended period after the operation, the secretion foul smelling, or the ear is aching, contact the hospital.

  • Ear, Nose and Throat Outpatient Clinic
  • Day Surgery Unit
  • Emergency Department 
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