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Myringotomy with P.E. Tubes in Children


  • A myringotomy is a procedure to put a tube through a hole in your child's eardrum. Pressure equalizing (PE) tubes are also called ventilation tubes, drainage tubes, tympanostomy tubes (T-tubes), or grommets. The eardrum is a thin layer of tissue that divides the middle and outer parts of the ear. The eardrum protects the middle ear and helps your child hear. Your child may need a myringotomy in one or both ears. During the procedure, a tube is placed into the eardrum, which drains fluid out of your child's ear.
    Picture of a normal ear
  • Your child may need a myringotomy with a PE tube if he has had many ear infections. He also may need the procedure if an ear infection has caused hearing loss. Your child may have a blocked eustachian tube that causes increased fluid or pressure behind his eardrum. The eustachian tube is a part of the ear that helps drain fluid from the middle ear. If your child's middle ear or eardrum has been damaged, he may need to have a myringotomy. After having this procedure, your child may have fewer ear infections. He may hear better, and have less pressure and pain in his ear.



  • Keep a current list of your child's medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list and the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Give vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed: Call your child's primary healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if your child is allergic to any medicine. Ask before you change or stop giving your child his medicines.
  • Antibiotics: This medicine fights or prevents infections caused by germs called bacteria. Always give your child antibiotics exactly as ordered by his caregiver. Never save antibiotics or give your child leftover antibiotics from another illness.
  • Pain medicine: Your child may need medicine to take away or decrease pain. Know how often your child should get the medicine and how much. Watch for signs of pain in your child. Tell caregivers if his pain continues or gets worse. To prevent falls, stay with your child to help him get out of bed.
  • Steroids: Your child's caregiver may order steroid drops to help decrease inflammation (redness, pain, and swelling). Ask caregivers to teach you how to put drops into your child's ear.

Ask for more information about where and when to take your child for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services for your child, ask for information.

  • Your child's caregiver will check your child's ear to see if the PE tube is still in place. He will look for problems in your child's ear, such as infection. Your child's hearing may be tested. Tell caregivers if you think that your child has more trouble hearing. If your child's PE tube is blocked, your child's caregiver may clean it. Tests such as a computed tomography (CT) scan may be done at follow-up visits. After several months, the PE tube may fall out on its own. If it does not, your child's caregiver may remove it.

Taking care of your child's ears:

Never put a cotton swab in your child's ears. If your child's caregiver wants you to remove fluid leaking from your child's ear, gently use a facial tissue to wipe the fluid away. Ask your child's caregiver how to clean your child's ear after having a myringotomy.


Your caregiver may want your child to avoid certain activities, such as swimming. Ask caregivers what activities your child should avoid while he has a PE tube in his ear.

Ear drops:

Your child need to use medicine that is given as ear drops. Ask caregivers to teach you how to safely put drops in your child's ear.

Speech testing and therapy:

Children who do not hear well may have trouble speaking or learning to speak. Your child may need to have his speech tested. A caregiver called a speech therapist may be needed to help improve your child's speech.

What to do to help prevent ear infections:

  • Keep your child away from tobacco smoke: Tobacco smoke increases your child's risk of ear infections. Do not smoke around your child. Keep your child away from places where people smoke. Tobacco smoke also harms your child's heart, lungs, and blood. If you smoke around your child, he is more likely to get lung disease and cancer later in life. It is never too late to stop smoking. You will not only help yourself, but also those around you. If you are having trouble quitting, talk with your caregiver about ways to quit.
  • Choose day care carefully: Your child may get more ear infections and colds if he goes to day care. If your child attends day care, choose a location that has fewer children.
  • Do not use pacifiers: If your child uses a pacifier (soother), he has a higher risk of getting ear infections.
  • Breastfeed your baby: Breast feeding a baby may help prevent ear infections.
  • Hold your baby when he drinks from a bottle: Hold your baby in a reclining position (leaning slightly back with his head up) when he drinks from a bottle. Do not prop up a bottle and let your baby feed from it on his own.


  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has new trouble hearing.
  • Your child has pus leaking from his ear.
  • Your child is pulling on his ear, and is very irritable (upset).
  • Your child is using antibiotic eardrops and has hearing loss, a ringing sound in his ear, or he feels dizzy. Do not put more eardrops in his ear before his caregiver says it is okay.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's myringotomy, PE tube, medicine, or care.


  • Your child has new trouble breathing.
  • Your child has severe (very bad) ear pain.
  • Your child suddenly cannot hear at all.
  • Your child's ear is bleeding.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.