Myringotomy: What You Need To Know


Myringotomy is a surgery process in which a small opening is made in the tympanic membrane of the eardrum, generally in both the ears. Also known as tympanotomy or myringotcentesis, the procedure is employed for drawing out the fluid in the middle ear through incision, by inserting ear tubes at both the ends.

What Is The Purpose Of Myringotomy?

It is an optional treatment for irritation of middle ear, in which the fluid is suctioned out from the ear canal, and a tube is positioned inside to permit drainage in case there’s an infection. Effusion or accumulation of fluid escaping from blood vessels lasting longer than 12 weeks, without responding to drug treatment is a condition called glue ear. In case such a situation persists for 4 to 6 months, the recommended treatment is Myringotomy.

Effusion can last for around 3 months or more in 10% of children, when the disease is said to be chronic. Systemic steroids may just come to rescue in such a case, but there are risks associated with it. Even after 3 months of effusion in a child, if medical treatment does not come to rescue, myringtomy is recommended, with an objective to take a sample fluid to examine for infection, to relieve symptoms and to restore hearing.

During the process, ear tubes can be inserted into the split position, while the eardrums heal around them. Within 6-12 months, they either fall out on their own or removed by the surgeon.  With the tubes in position, there’s a channel open between outer ear and middle ear, allowing fresh air to move inside and the fluid draining out without pressure building up in middle ear. Hearing is restored immediately, with minimum risk of reappearance.

What Are The Risks Associated With It?

Some of the potential risks associated with Myringotomy surgical procedure include:

  • Formation of cholesterol in the middle ear and a mass of skin cells that can damage the surrounding bones.
  • Sites of granular nodes formed due to inflammation
  • Permanent eardrum perforation
  • A permanent hole may be formed in the eardrum, if the incision is not healed properly.
  • The ear tube may get trapped inside the middle ear, by moving inward.
  • Surgery may or may not be taken as the permanent cure, since one-fourth of children undergoing the surgery may need revision.
  • Other risks include those related with general anesthesia or sedatives. In order to minimize risks, some patients may favor acupuncture for pain control.

An extra element of post-surgery care is the use of ear plugs to keep the moisture out from accumulating during swimming or bathing, to minimize the risk of discharge and infection.

Parents have often reported that their children start behaving better post myringotomy treatment with the insertion of ear tubes, sleep better, less irritable, hear better and talk better.  In case your child is experiencing any discomfort with the tubes, then you should immediately contact Dr Daniel Samadi to determine the best course of action.