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Babies and young children can often have repeated ear infections. This is caused by fluid build-up in the middle part of their ears and can result in problems hearing and communicating. In these cases, your child’s pediatrician may refer you to an Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) specialist for further evaluation.
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In cases where the child continues to have these infections with no relief from medication, the ENT may recommend a minimally invasive procedure called myringotomy where a tiny cut is made in the child’s eardrum to remove any excessive build up in the ear. Additionally, a small plastic drainage tube, called a tympanostomy tube, is inserted at the site of the cut to help clear the middle ear of excess fluid. This will help reduce any fluids from hardening and causing hearing loss or pain.
Children who have deformities in their ear drum, Eustachian tube or other medical conditions may also benefit from wearing the temporary tubes.
Under general anesthesia, the surgeon inserts a tiny microscope into the ear canal and cuts the ear drum. Any fluid will be suctioned out and the tube inserted in the cut. All incisions, which are very small, are made inside the ear, so there are no visible cuts. The tube will allow for drainage. The doctor will put a small cotton insert in the ear to absorb the drainage, which can be changed as needed.
This is a very short procedure, usually taking less than 15 minutes. Your child will recover for about an hour and then be discharged.
Learn What to Expect from Ear Tube Insertion
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