Middle ear ventilation tubes can be placed to allow ventilation of the middle ear.
The procedure is generally performed under a light general anaesthetic using an operating microscope.
Once the patient is asleep a small incision is made in the eardrum and fluid (effusion) is drained through this with a tiny suction catheter.
To keep the middle ear ventilated the Middle Ear Ventilation Tubes or grommets are then placed through the small incision to lock into the eardrum.
Sometimes this fluid is infected and may require topical and oral antibiotics post operatively to control it as well.
The Middle ear ventilation tubes then act as a small ventilation port for the outside atmosphere to enter the middle ear to bypass a blocked eustachian tube and allow the mucosa – ( lining ) of the middle ear to return to normal.
There are various types of middle ear ventilation tubes that can be placed, depending on the length of time thought that ventilation is needed through the outer ear. Some tubes can last as little as a few weeks, othes can be almost permanent.
They are designed to gradually extrude from the tympanic membrane and they move out naturally with formation of new skin on the eardrum and then gradually the tubes are pushed out to the ear canal. After this happens, the grommets often come out of the ear canal naturally, with every day activities.