Christopher Thomson F.R.A.C.S
Ear, Nose and Throat & Facial Plastic Surgery
Phone: +64 (03) 356 0274

Ear Grommets (Ventilation Tubes) for Glue Ear & Ear Infections

ENT Surgeon, Chris Thomson, offers ear grommets surgery in Christchurch NZ.

Ear grommets (ventilation tubes) are tiny plastic tubes inserted across the eardrums to manage recurrent middle ear infections and glue ear. Sometimes they are also used to prevent inwards collapse of the eardrum. When your child undergoes surgery they will need to have a general anaesthetic administered and they will be asleep for about 15 minutes. During this time their ears will be examined under the operating microscope, a small incision made in the lower part of the eardrum and any fluid present behind the eardrum sucked out. The grommet tube is then placed across the eardrum, held in position by its plastic flanges. Usually a tube stays in place for about a year but the length of time varies according to the tube type chosen and the condition of your child’s eardrum.

Sometimes your child will be prescribed eardrops (usually Sofradex) to take for a few days after surgery particularly if there has been some bleeding from the eardrum or if the middle ear fluid is very thick or infected. The use of drops will help prevent blockage of the tube in the early postoperative period and minimize risks of infection.

Most children are able to be discharged within an hour of surgery. Generally their level of discomfort is minimal requiring only one or two doses of paracetamol postoperatively. Children should be able to resume normal activities the following day but should avoid getting water in their ears for the first week after surgery. If there have been no problems with ear discharge over this time then they should be able to swim in the sea or chlorinated pools, submerge their head in the bath or wash their hair in the shower without any risk of fluid getting into their ears through the small hole at the centre of the grommet. Some children will develop ear discomfort and discharge on water exposure. For these children wearing of earplugs supplied from my rooms may be helpful.

Children who have grommets in place may develop spontaneous discharge from their ears from time to time. If your child is otherwise well I advise observation alone for 48 hours. Most of the time the discharge will spontaneously settle. If it fails to do so then a course of local eardrops with or without oral antibiotics should resolve matters. If there is persistent discharge following this please contact me for cleaning of ears in the rooms.

There is a small risk of developing a persistent perforation of the eardrum after the tube has come out (1-2%). Eventually many of these perforations heal and, of those that do not, many are asymptomatic and don’t require active treatment. Should they prove troublesome, the hole can be patched when the child is older.

Please contact my rooms on discharge from hospital, to arrange a check of your children’s ears about six weeks after surgery. After the initial postoperative review, your child will be reviewed annually until the tubes have extruded. In most cases children have no further problems but some require repeated insertion of tubes until such time as they have grown out of their middle ear problems.

If there are any significant postoperative problems please contact me at my rooms 356 0274, my residence 355 7996 or on my mobile phone 0274-815-843.

Read our Grommets Advice Sheet

Click here to view the cost of surgery.

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