Ear tubes, known as myringotomy tubes, are used in children to drain fluid that has built up behind the eardrum in order to restore the normal functions of the ear.
When fluid accumulates behind the eardrum, it causes recurring middle ear infections, which can lead to permanent damage to the ear, and hearing blockage.
For children with chronic, recurring ear infections that are not resolved with the use of antibiotics, ear tubes may be necessary in order to keep the eardrum open so the infection can fully drain from the eardrum. Tubes prevent the eardrum from attempting to heal before the infection has fully cleared.
Myringotomy tubes usually stay in place for 18 months before coming out. For the majority of children who have tubes placed, there is a dramatic reduction in the number of ear infections and hearing is greatly improved.
Placing the ear tubes involves a quick, 10-minute outpatient procedure under anesthesia and it carries very minimal risk.