How long does it take to put tubes in your ears?

It takes approximately 15 minutes to put tubes through your eardrums.
It takes approximately 15 minutes to put tubes in your eardrums.

Ear tubes or tympanostomy tubes are tiny plastic or metal tubes placed through the eardrum to drain fluid from the middle ear. It usually takes about 15 minutes to put tubes into your ears. There are three steps to this procedure

  • Making a tiny incision in the eardrum with a small scalpel or laser
  • Draining fluids from the middle ear
  • Inserting the tube through the hole in the eardrum

What are ear tubes?

Ear tubes are small, hollow cylinders inserted into the eardrum during a myringotomy (surgery to create an opening in the eardrum). They are usually made of plastic or metal. An ear tube helps improve airflow and balance pressure in the middle ear (a space right behind the eardrum). This allows for better drainage of fluid in the middle ear resulting from an infection or inflammation. Ear tubes are also known as

  • Tympanostomy tubes
  • Ventilation tubes
  • Myringotomy tubes
  • Pressure equalization tubes

Why are ear tubes used?

Ear tubes balance the pressure in the middle ear. People with repeated middle ear infections (otitis media) may get ear tubes. The doctor may prescribe ear tubes when

  • A child gets many ear infections that fail to clear up.
  • The ear infection seems to be causing hearing loss or speech delay.
  • There is inflammation and fluid buildup in the middle ear with or without bacterial or viral infection.
  • There is a long-term infection of the middle ear that doesn’t improve with antibiotic treatment.
  • A persistent ear infection leads to tearing or perforation of the eardrum.

What happens while placing the ear tubes?

Before surgery

You need to keep in mind the following things before undergoing ear tube placement surgery

  • The surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure. In children, the surgery may be done under general anesthesia and require admission for a day.
  • Let your doctor know your medical and medication history.
  • Avoid eating or drinking, including water or chewing gum, 6 to 12 hours before surgery.
  • Inform the surgeon if you have a fever the day before surgery.

During surgery

The physician puts you under general anesthesia or local anesthesia before performing the surgery. During the surgery, the physician performs these three steps

  • Making a tiny incision in the eardrum with a small scalpel or laser
  • Draining fluids from the middle ear
  • Inserting the tube through the hole in the eardrum

The surgeon may also remove the glands that are located above the roof of the mouth and behind the nose (adenoids).

After surgery

After surgery, keep in mind 

  • You may have to spend time in the recovery room after surgery.
  • You might get antibiotic ear drops to prevent an ear infection.
  • You may resume eating a normal diet after recovering from anesthesia.
  • The eardrum usually closes around the ear tube and prevents it from falling out.
  • The ear tubes usually fall out in 9 to 18 months.
  • If the ear tubes don’t fall out within 2 years, contact the surgeon to remove them.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 1/5/2021
References
Medscape Medical Reference

Mayo Clinic


Cleveland Clinic


CONTINUE SCROLLING FOR RELATED SLIDESHOW