Pressure equalization (PE) tubes are small tubes that are placed through the eardrum to help release fluid into the middle ear cavity. They enable the ear to “breath” because the eustachian tube is not working.
Tubes are recommend for patients who frequently have middle ear infections(otitis media) or have a hearing loss caused by the persistent middle ear fluid. A small tube is placed in the eardrum to allow airflow into the middle ear and to prevent fluid from building up. Large amounts of fluid buildup can cause hearing loss and ear infections. Inserting tubes may help reduce the chance of future ear infection and restore hearing loss caused by middle ear fluid.
Young children are often susceptible to ear infections because their eustachian tubes, the tube that connects the back of the throat with the middle ear, are not functioning properly, making the ear more difficult to drain and more likely to get clogged.
Myringotomy, the surgical procedure to place tubes is through a small hole in the tympanic membrane. The procedure is typically done in an outpatient facility and patients are able to leave the same day. Typically the procedure lasts about 10 minutes and is performed under a general anesthesia.
The surgeon will make a small hole in the tympanic membrane (eardrum). After making the incision, the surgeon will suction out any fluids from the middle ear. A small tube is placed in the hole to allow air to reach the middle ear.
The physician may prescribe ear drops and recommend placing a vaseline soaked cotton ball in the ear before bathing.
A post-operative appointment will assess the surgical area and evaluate a patient’s hearing.