Surgery: What to Expect – Ventilation Tubes

Ear ventilation tube (vent tube) surgery has been performed since the 1950s. The procedure is called a myringotomy. It is generally an outpatient operation, which means your child will have the surgery and usually go home the same day.

Before Surgery

You’ll meet with your child’s healthcare team before the operation, and they’ll answer any questions you may have. The anaesthetist will get a medical history of your child and perform a physical examination before developing an anaesthesia plan. He or she will discuss the plan with you and answer any of your questions.

During Surgery

Vent tube surgery usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes. The operation involves making a very small opening in the eardrum to drain the fluid behind it and relieve pressure on the middle ear.

A tiny tube is then placed in the opening to keep the middle ear ventilated and prevent fluid from accumulating again. The tube usually falls out on its own after 6 to 12 months.

After Surgery

The recovery room nurses will monitor your child for approximately 2 to 4 hours after surgery. If all goes well, you can usually leave the hospital the same day.

The ENT or ear specialist may prescribe antibiotic ear drops to prevent infection where the vent tube was inserted. You’ll probably be asked to call your paediatrician if your child has drainage from the ear, pain in the ear, or a fever. If a vent tube should happen to fall out before it’s supposed to, notify your paediatrician right away. Another procedure will be necessary to re-insert it.

Detailed follow-up care is based on the judgment of your paediatrician. If you have questions or concerns, be sure to ask your paediatrician.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

Last updated: 27 Sep 2010

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