Ventilation Tube Insertion
Inserting a ventilation tube in the ear is a very basic procedure often performed in the doctor's office. On the other hand, babies as well as children may need to have the procedure done in an operating room. The entire process only takes a few minutes.
Procedure of inserting
Both locations offer the same type of insertion method with the only difference being the type of anesthetic used. In the doctors office normally ear drops are used to numb the area prior to the surgery, whereas in the operating room at the hospital, patients are normally put to sleep using a type of gas.
The procedure itself is done by cutting a small hole in the ear drum using a tiny knife and a microscope used in surgery. Once the hole is cut, the ventilation tube will be placed in the hole. This is done, as the hole needs to remain open in order for airflow to reach the middle ear and behind the eardrum where the fluid has built up. In most cases, the fluid will also be removed via a suctioning instrument. After the procedure ear drops with antibiotics will be placed in the ear.
After the procedure, if it was performed in the doctor’s office, the patient can go home. If performed in the operating room, the patient will be taken to the recovery room and will be sent home in about an hour.
Post procedure Care
After the insertion of the ventilation tube, the patient will receive instructions on caring for the ear. You will receive a follow up appointment for the doctor to examine the ear, the tube to make sure that all is properly in place, and that the fluid is not building up.
In some cases, the doctor will:
- Prescribe ear drops with antibiotics
- Set an appointment for a hearing test
- Recommend keeping the ear dry with the use of ear plugs during showers or water sports
Ventilation tubes normally fall out of the ear after about a year. In some cases, the tubes will need to be removed surgically. You will need to speak to your ear surgeon to learn if this is a possibility. However, with normal checkups the physician will be able to tell if this procedure will need to be performed.
After the tubes are gone, some children experience ear infections again. If the ear infections are persistent, your child may need to have another ventilation tube inserted.
Complications that may Occur
One of the most common complications that does not cause any harm is scaring to the ear drum. The condition is minor and may not require any type of treatment.
In some cases, the ear drum may collapse. This is very rare and is often when a hole is cut into the ear drum and no tube is placed to keep the hole from healing.
Perforations of the ear drum meaning once the tube has fallen out the hole does not heal and leaves the open hole.