Myringotomy or grommets

Myringotomy is a surgical procedure where a small cut is made in the eardrum to relieve pressure caused by the build-up of fluid or pus in the middle ear, or to take a sample of fluid for diagnosis, or to insert ear tubes (grommets).

Common questions

Why would I have a myringotomy?

A myringotomy is used to relieve the symptoms caused by any one of a number of different conditions. Symptoms may include hearing loss, pain, pressure in the ear and impaired balance.

What happens during a myringotomy?

During a myringotomy, a tiny incision is made in the eardrum to allow direct access to the middle ear space. At this point the middle ear can be drained of any fluid or pus to relieve pressure. If required, this fluid can be sent for analysis to diagnose the cause of any infection.

Sometimes, tiny ear ventilation tubes (or grommets) can be placed in the incision. These tubes remain in position after the operation to allow fluid to continue to drain out of the ear more easily, and to allow antibiotic drops to be placed directly into the middle ear space which makes their application more effective. 

Surgery will normally be carried out under a local anaesthetic. During the operation the surgeon will be using very small, precision instruments while looking at the area through a microscope.

Depending on the exact nature of the condition, slightly different operations may be required.

What should I expect after myringotomy?

If you’ve had a general anaesthetic, you won’t be able to drive for 24 hours after surgery. There may be some pain after the anaesthetic wears off and we’ll help relieve this with painkillers. Before you go home we’ll discuss any aftercare requirements or follow-up appointments with you. 

If you’ve had ear tubes (grommets) inserted, they normally work their way out of your eardrum naturally after six weeks to 18 months.

Contact Benenden Hospital

It’s easy to make an appointment; you can ask your GP or give us a call on 01580 230661.