A myringotomy is a procedure where a doctor makes a small hole in a patient’s eardrum to allow fluid, pus, or blood to drain through. During the procedure, a doctor may also insert tubes into the patient’s ear. The tube holds the hole open and stops it from sealing. This prevents earaches and infections and allows the fluid to continue to drain properly.
Why a Person May Need a Myringotomy
This procedure is usually performed on people who suffer from ear infections, inner ear inflammation, or hearing loss due to congested ears. When the Eustachian tubes become inflamed, fluid cannot drain properly. This can cause pressure on the eardrum and interfere with hearing. It can also be very painful. Myringotomy relieves this pressure and other symptoms. Doctors may choose to add tubes to the ear if there is a chronic problem. Children who experience earaches often usually undergo this procedure.
Preparing for a Myringotomy
Patients are sedated during the procedure. A gas mask is used to put the patient under. Children may struggle with this at first, but parents are usually allowed to be in the room until the child is under. Doctors may ask patients to avoid food for 12 hours before the procedure. If patients have health problems, the physician may have additional preparation advice.
During a Myringotomy Procedure
During the procedure, the doctor uses a small knife to make an incision on the patient’s eardrum. If there is fluid behind the ear, it should drain out. If the doctor feels that tubes are necessary, these will be inserted into the holes in the ears. The patient will not feel anything during the procedure, and it is a fairly quick one that usually takes less than an hour to complete.
Patients typically recover from a myringotomy procedure quickly. Once the anesthesia wears off, they can move around and even eat. Some may have some pain their ears, but most do not feel any discomfort. Doctors may prescribe medications to help fight pain. Some patients may experience drainage from the ears for a short time after the procedure.
As with any surgery or procedure, there can be complications related to a myringotomy. While complications are rare, they can happen. If a patient experiences any of the complications listed below, they should seek medical attention. Some of the most common complications include:
- Infection in the surgical wound
- Perforated eardrum that does not heal
- Trapping of the ear tube in the middle ear
- Loss of hearing
In most cases, myringotomy procedures are successful. Patients will notice that their ears can drain better, and they have less pressure, drainage, and pain. Some patients experience some ringing in the ears or pain from the tubes. The tubes may also cause the patient’s ears to feel itchy. Some tubes need to be removed surgically once the doctor feels they are no longer needed. Children who have tubes inserted during the myringotomy usually lose the tubes as they grow.