Ear Tube Surgery

Treat­ment for Chron­ic Ear Infections

What does ear tube surgery entail?

Place­ment of ear tubes in chil­dren is often per­formed at the hos­pi­tal or at The Sur­gi­cal Cen­ter of DuPage Med­ical Group. The pro­ce­dure is per­formed under gen­er­al anes­the­sia that is admin­is­tered by a mask. In most cas­es, no IV is required. Pro­ce­dure length is vari­able, but often lasts about 15 min­utes. Min­i­mal bleed­ing from the ears can be expect­ed. Once the child has awak­ened from anes­the­sia, is able to drink, and par­ents are com­fort­able, every­one can go home. Imme­di­ate recov­ery from anes­the­sia can last about an hour.

What are the types of ear tube surgery:


A tym­pa­nos­to­my tube helps pre­vent recur­ring ear infec­tions by allow­ing air into the mid­dle ear. Oth­er sub­stances, includ­ing water, may some­times enter through the tube, but this is rarely a prob­lem. Your sur­geon may or may not rec­om­mend earplugs for reg­u­lar bathing or swimming.


Myringo­to­my tubes are small tubes that are sur­gi­cal­ly placed into your child’s eardrum by an ear, nose, and throat sur­geon. The tubes are placed to help drain the flu­id out of the mid­dle ear in order to reduce the risk of ear infec­tions. Myringo­tomies are fre­quent­ly used to treat glue ear and recur­ring ear infec­tions that do not respond to antibiotics.


In an oper­a­tion called a stapedec­to­my, a sur­geon (oto­laryn­gol­o­gist or otol­o­gist) bypass­es the dis­eased bone with a pros­thet­ic device that allows sound waves to be passed to the inner ear.

Stape­do­to­my Laser stape­do­to­my is a well-estab­lished sur­gi­cal tech­nique for treat­ing con­duc­tive hear­ing loss due to oto­scle­ro­sis. The pro­ce­dure cre­ates a tiny open­ing in the stapes (the small­est bone in the human body) in which to secure a pros­thet­ic. The CO2 laser allows the sur­geon to cre­ate very small, pre­cise­ly placed holes with­out increas­ing the tem­per­a­ture of the inner ear flu­id by more than one degree, mak­ing this an extreme­ly safe sur­gi­cal solu­tion. The hole diam­e­ter can be pre­de­ter­mined accord­ing to the pros­the­sis diam­e­ter. Treat­ment can be com­plet­ed in a sin­gle office vis­it using anesthesia.

BAHA Implant

The Baha is a sur­gi­cal­ly implantable sys­tem for treat­ment of hear­ing loss that works through direct bone con­duc­tion. Baha is used to help peo­ple with chron­ic ear infec­tions, con­gen­i­tal exter­nal audi­to­ry canal atre­sia and sin­gle sided deaf­ness who can­not ben­e­fit from con­ven­tion­al hear­ing aids. The sys­tem is sur­gi­cal­ly implant­ed and allows sound to be con­duct­ed through the bone rather than via the mid­dle ear — a process known as direct bone conduction.

What is expect­ed after surgery?

There may be tem­po­rary drainage from the ears, as the infec­tion drains. Eardrops, if nec­es­sary, will be pre­scribed to elim­i­nate infection.

Is there any per­ma­nent dam­age from the tubes?

Gen­er­al­ly, eardrums heal with­out any prob­lems. If PE tubes are left in for more than 2 – 3 years, per­ma­nent per­fo­ra­tions can occur. Rou­tine fol­low-ups are nec­es­sary to ensure that tubes do not stay in longer than necessary.

What can hap­pen if tubes are not placed?

Ear infec­tions left untreat­ed can often be more dam­ag­ing than any surgery. Com­pli­ca­tions can occur, result­ing in speech and lan­guage delay, rup­tur­ing of the eardrum, scar­ring from too many ear infec­tions and occa­sion­al­ly, hear­ing loss, which may be permanent.

Is there any role for remov­ing the adenoids?

Ade­noidec­to­my has been shown to elim­i­nate the need for repeat­ed PE tubes. This is usu­al­ly rec­om­mend­ed only if a sec­ond set of PE tubes are need­ed or if the ade­noids are enlarged.

Are there any oth­er alter­na­tives oth­er than surgery?

Usu­al­ly when surgery is rec­om­mend­ed, there is no fur­ther indi­ca­tion for more antibi­otics. To our knowl­edge, no alter­na­tive med­i­cine has been proven to cure chron­ic oti­tis media (ear infec­tions). A sec­ond med­ical opin­ion, how­ev­er, is always an option.

For more infor­ma­tion on ear tubes surgery, sched­ule a con­sul­ta­tion with an Oto­laryn­gol­o­gist (ENT).