Myringotomy / Pressure Equalization Tubes
WHAT IS A MYRINGOTOMY?
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.
WHAT ARE PE (PRESSURE EQUALIZATION) TUBES?
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 Commonwealth countries, PE tubes are sometimes referred to as “grommets.” 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, the procedure can actually be done in the office by a skilled Otologist.
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 it appears permanent tubes are required, tubes made out of titanium may be used in place of the standard PE tubes.
CONSEQUENCES OF AVOIDING TREATMENT
If surgery indications are present and surgery is not performed, the patient may suffer from irreparable and permanent conductive hearing loss.
It can be difficult to break the cycle of chronic ear infections without a comprehensive medical examination and specialty care from an Otologist, who is an otolaryngologist (ENT) who has undergone two additional years of training and specializes in hearing only. With appropriate medical treatment and therapy, children with chronic ear infections can fully function in a hearing world.
Click here to make an appointment with the California Ear Institute to consult with one of our board certified Otologists regarding your child’s ear-related condition.