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Tympanostomy or ear tube application is the operation of placing ear tubes. Ear tubes are small, hollow cylinders placed in your eardrum. They are often used in children or adults with chronic middle ear infections or infections that resist treatment.


With a tympanostomy, an ear tube helps drain fluid from your middle ear.

What is a tympanostomy?

Tympanostomy (tuhm-puh-NAA-stuh-mee) is a surgical procedure performed by an otolaryngologist (ENT) to insert ear tubes. Tympanostomy is sometimes called ear tube surgery.

What are ear tubes?

Ear tubes are small, hollow cylinders made of plastic or metal that are inserted into your eardrum (eardrum).

How common is tympanostomy?

Tympanostomy is one of the most common operations in children. As a part of the developmental process, after adenoid infections and enlargement due to obstruction of the aeration canal (eustachian) leading to the middle ear, fluid accumulation in the middle ear and not being able to be cured by drug treatments, this procedure should be applied more frequently in the pediatric age group. Ear tubes may also be inserted for adults, although this is less common.

Why do people put tubes in their ears?

Ear tubes are most often placed in children who have had several middle ear infections (acute otitis media). They are also used to treat fluid accumulation (effusion) in the middle ear that lasts longer than three months.

In adults, ear tubes are most commonly used to treat barotrauma, a painful condition caused by air pressure changes. In addition to draining fluid from your ear, ear tubes allow air to come in to prevent fluid from accumulating in your middle ear.

If these conditions are not treated, they can lead to larger problems such as speech difficulties or permanent hearing loss.

What is the difference between tympanostomy and myringotomy?

Myringotomy involves making an incision (cut) in your eardrum to drain excess fluid from your middle ear. Sometimes myringotomy is done as a standalone treatment. However, it is often combined with a tympanostomy, which is the actual placement of the ear tubes in your eardrum.


How can I prepare for a tympanostomy?

Your surgeon will talk to you about what to expect on the day of ear tube surgery. They will review your medical history in detail and will tell you if you need to stop taking any medications before your appointment. In most cases, you will need to fast for a few hours before your procedure.

How is ear tube surgery done?

Ear tube surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia. Adults can be placed under local anesthesia depending on the situation.

During surgery:

Your surgeon makes a small incision in your eardrum.
The fluid trapped in your middle ear is drained or sucked out.
Your surgeon then inserts the ear tube into the incision in your eardrum. This allows the fluid to drain out of your ear.

In some cases, your surgeon may also perform an adenoidectomy (adenoid surgery), especially if you have had a tympanostomy in the past. Adenoids (nasal vein) are tissues located on the roof of your mouth and behind your nose. They are part of your immune system and help protect your body from viruses and bacteria. Removing your adenoids can prevent the need for future ear tube surgeries.

Ear tube surgery is done in the operating room. It usually takes less than 15 minutes and you go home the same day as it is an outpatient surgery.

What can I expect after ear tube surgery?

After ear tube surgery, you will spend some time in the recovery room. You may experience some side effects from surgery and anesthesia, such as drowsiness and nausea.

Your surgeon will check on you to be sure after your procedure. He or she may prescribe antibiotic ear drops to treat the infection. Additionally, your surgeon may recommend that you wear earplugs during certain activities, such as swimming and showering.

After surgery, your surgeon will check on you every few months to monitor the tubes and make sure they’re working. They may also recommend a hearing test.


How long do the tubes stay in the ear?

Your eardrum usually seals around the ear tube to hold the ear tube in place and prevent it from falling out prematurely. In most cases, ear tubes fall out on their own within nine to 18 months. If your ear tubes do not fall out within two years, your surgeon may remove the ear tube.


What are the advantages of tympanostomy?

Tympanostomy offers significant benefits, including:

What are the side effects of inserting a tube into your ear?

As with any surgery, ear tube surgery can have some complications. These include:

Most people feel better within one to two days. You may feel mild pain during this time. Take over-the-counter pain relievers to manage any discomfort.

When can I return to work or school?

Most people can resume work, school, and other normal routines within 24 hours of ear tube surgery.


When should I call my healthcare professional?

After ear tube surgery, you should call your healthcare provider if you develop:

Ear pain that does not go away with medication.
Fever or chills.
Ear bleeding.
Increased ear drainage that persists after the first few days.

If you or your child has chronic ear problems such as infections, ear pain or hearing problems, a tympanostomy can help. This common procedure opens the space between your outer and middle ear, equalizing the air pressure and allowing excess fluid to drain out. Talk to your doctor about whether ear tubes are right for you or your child and make an appointment.

You may be interested in the TURKISH ASSOCIATION OF THE HEARING DISABLED (TIED), which will be useful and guide you to get more detailed information about hearing loss.