Myringotomy and Ear Tube Placement

Fluid can build up behind the eardrum, often due to acute or chronic otitis media (ear infection). The fluid can cause pain and/or hearing loss. Myringotomy is a surgical procedure where a small incision is made in the eardrum to relieve pressure caused by the fluid build up behind the eardrum. Little tubes, called pressure equalizing tubes, may also be inserted at this time. The tubes are inserted to keep the fluid from accumulating behind the eardrum again. The tubes are intended to be temporary, and they should be checked at least twice a year. Most tubes will fall out on their own, but in some cases they may need to be removed. The tubes are temporary, and should not be left in for greater than 2 years.

Typically a myringotomy does not require an overnight stay in the hospital. The procedure itself should only take approximately 15 minutes. The patient should be sent home from the hospital within a few hours after the procedure.


As with any procedure, there are some risks in a myringotomy and ear tube placement. The risks and complications include:

  • bleeding
  • infection
  • hearing loss
  • scarring of the eardrum
  • the need for a second surgery

As with any procedure with anesthesia, there is also a risk for a reaction to medication and breathing problems. All of the risks and complications listed above are rare.

Before the Procedure

  1. Nothing to eat after midnight the evening before the procedure, unless told differently. Clear liquids consisting of water and apple juice may be given to your child up to 4 hours before surgery. You may brush your child's teeth. The surgery may be cancelled if you do not follow these instructions.
  2. Please notify us of all routine medications and significant health history. Please call our office if your child is on any medications that affect bleeding.

Myringotomy and Ear Tube Placement – After the Procedure

Your child will go home on the same day as surgery. Ear infections are less common after the placement of PE tubes, but may still occur especially with upper respiratory infections. It may be “referred pain” from another source such as a sore throat or teething. Your child may still pull at his/her ears out of habit and have healthy ears.

Diet: Encourage fluids, and advance to a regular diet as tolerated.

Activity: Normal activity can resume right after the surgery. Pool swimming is allowed. Most children will tolerate this.

Medications: Most children have little or no pain after the tubes are placed. For any discomfort, Tylenol can be used. Follow the package directions for safe dosage. A prescription for Ciprodex will also be given, and please use as directed.

Drainage from Ear: There may be some drainage and/or bleeding from the ears the day the tubes are inserted. This is normal and should diminish the following day. If it continues contact the office during office hours. This is not an emergency.

Please call our office at 585-342-2080 for any of the following:

  1. Any drainage, except wax, after the first 24 hours is not normal. Call the office during office hours if drainage. This is not an emergency.
  2. Pain unrelieved by prescribed medication.
  3. Fever above 101° F
  4. Any other questions or concerns