Myringotomy

A myringotomy is a procedure to put a hole in the ear drum. This is done so that fluid trapped in the middle ear can drain out. The fluid may be blood, pus, and/or water. In many cases, a small tube is inserted into the hole in the ear drum. The tube helps to maintain drainage.

  • Call Your Doctor

    After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the ear
    • Pain that you cannot control with the medications you have been given
    • Drainage from ear continues for more than four days after surgery
    • Decreased hearing
    • Cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, or severe nausea or vomiting
    • Any other new concerns

    If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

  • Definition

    A myringotomy is a procedure to put a hole in the ear drum. This is done so that fluid trapped in the middle ear can drain out. The fluid may be blood, pus, and/or water. In many cases, a small tube is inserted into the hole in the ear drum. The tube helps to maintain drainage.

  • What to Expect

  • Reasons for Procedure

    A myringotomy may be done:

    • To restore hearing loss caused by chronic fluid build-up and to prevent delayed speech development caused by hearing loss in children
    • To place tympanostomy tubes—these tubes help to equalize pressure. It may also help prevent recurrent ear infections and the accumulation of fluid behind the ear drum
    • To help treat an ear infection that is not responding to medical treatment
    • To take sample fluid from the middle ear to examine in the lab for the presence of bacteria or other infections

    After the procedure, pain and/or pressure in the ear due to fluid build-up should be alleviated. Hearing loss due to fluid build-up should improve as well.

  • Possible Complications

    Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

    • Bleeding
    • Infection
    • Chronic scarring
    • Failure of the myringotomy incision in the ear drum to heal as expected, which may result in frequent drainage
    • Hearing loss
    • Injury to ear structures other than the ear drum
    • Need for repeat surgery