Doctors often recommend ear tube placement for children plagued with constant infections in both ears or one of the ears, nose and throat. This procedure consists of inserting a small pressure equalization (PE) tube which is designed to alleviate pressure and drain trapped fluid. To make a small incision in the ear drum, the otolaryngologist uses a surgical microscope and the myringotomy, or ear tube placement, is an outpatient procedure. Within a few days, the incision in the ear drum would naturally heal without the ear tube. To equalize the pressure in the ear and in order to allow fluid in the middle ear to drain, the tube keeps the hole open. There are many questions parents have regarding the procedure, especially how the tubes are removed after the problem is rectified. With this in mind, we at ENT Specialists would like to clarify the basics, including how the tube is removed once it is no longer needed.
Eustachian Tube Treatments
Ear tubes are used to treat several conditions, such as chronic and recurrent ear infections, known as otitis media; persistent, antibiotic-resistant bacterial ear infections; residual fluid buildup in the middle of the ear following an ear infection that has been cleared for months; and Eustachian tube dysfunction, a condition that causes blockage or dysfunction in the tube that travels from the ear down the back of the throat. Typically, short-term ear tubes are only in place 6-18 months where long-term tubes can remain in place for years.
Ear Tube Removal
As the ear drum heals, generally the tubes are naturally pushed out. They will then slide out of the ear canal; most patients are unaware when the tubes are gone. Ear tubes can uncommonly get trapped in the ear and do not slide out on their one as they are trapped in wax buildup in the ear canal. During follow-up appointments, your specialists will closely examine your ear drum. Should the tube become displaced through the course of natural healing and become contained in the ear wax, the specialists will use micro instruments to gently remove it during your follow-up appointments. In rare cases, the tube remains in the ear drum after it is no longer required; when this occurs, a brief procedure may be needed to remove it. Because the tube has stayed in the ear drum, the surgical incision has not been able to heal or close. If the specialists need to remove the tube manually, they may ensure the hole is closed as well.
Placement of Ear Tubes
Your child can be spared from series of painful, chronic ear infections with a simple myringotomy procedure. Additionally, adults can benefit from the fluid build-up from the middle of the ear as well and find relief. If you feel you or your child may benefit from ear tube placements, call the professionals of the ENT Specialists and we will evaluate and consult with you about your concerns and find the right treatment.