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Ear tube surgery - what to ask your doctor

Your child is being evaluated for ear tube insertion. This is the placement of tubes in your child's eardrums. It is done to allow fluid behind your child's eardrums to drain or to prevent infection. This can help your child's ears work better.

Below are some questions you may want to ask your child's health care provider to help you take care of your child's ears.

Questions

Why does my child need ear tubes?

Can we try other treatments? What are the risks of the surgery?

Is it safe to wait before getting ear tubes?

  • Will it harm my child's ears if we wait longer before putting in tubes?
  • Will my child still learn to speak and read if we wait longer before putting in tubes?

What type of anesthesia will my child need? Will my child feel any pain? What are the risks of the anesthesia?

How long will the tubes stay in? How do the tubes come out? Do the holes where the tubes are placed close up?

Will my child still have ear infections while the tubes are in place? Will my child have ear infections again after the ear tubes come out?

Can my child swim or get the ears wet with tubes in?

When will my child need to follow up after surgery?

Alternative Names

What to ask your doctor about ear tube surgery; Tympanostomy - what to ask your doctor; Myringotomy - what to ask your doctor

References

Casselbrant ML, Mandel EM. Acute otitis media and otitis media with effusion. In: Lesperance MM, Flint PW, eds. Cummings Pediatric Otolaryngology. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 16.

Kerschner JE, Preciado D. Otitis media. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 658.

Schilder AGM, Rosenfeld RM, Venekamp RP. Acute Otitis media and otitis media with effusion. In: Azar FM, Beaty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 14th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 199.

Yellon RF, Chi DH. Otolaryngology. In: Zitelli BJ, McIntire SC, Nowalk AJ, eds. Zitelli and Davis' Atlas of Pediatric Physical Diagnosis. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 24.

Review Date 10/2/2020

Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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