Myringotomy involves making a small opening in the eardrum to drain the fluid and relieve the pressure from the middle ear. Sometimes a small tube is placed in the opening of the eardrum to ventilate the middle ear and to prevent fluid from accumulating (Grommet insertion).

A myringotomy may be recommended if there is:

  • fluid in the ears for more than three or four months following an ear infection
  • fluid in the ears and more than three months of hearing loss
  • a delay in speaking
  • repeated ear infections that do not improve with antibiotics over several months

Night before surgery:

No solid foods (that includes milk, cream etc.) for 8 hours prior to surgery. Typically this means no solid foods after midnight before the surgery. Small volumes of clear liquid may be drunk up to 4 hours prior to surgery. If your child is still nursing, you may nurse up to 4 hours before surgery.

Hospital Stay:

Myringotomy and grommet insertion is usually done in an out-patient setting and does not require an overnight hospital stay.

Lab Work:

  • Basic lab work up might be done before the procedure if needed.
  • Tympanogram to evaluate middle ear pressure and presence of fluid in middle ear.

Surgical Steps:

Myringotomy and grommet insertion is a straightforward, relatively short procedure (15 minutes) usually done on an outpatient basis. Your child will be placed under general anesthesia for the procedure.

A tiny incision is made in the eardrum (myringotomy) with a small scalpel Followed Suctioning out fluids from the middle ear and if needed Insertion of the tube (grommets) in the hole in the eardrum.


  • Most children will be able to return home on the day of their surgery.
  • Post operatively child will be able to resume regular diet after full recovery from anesthesia.
  • Child will be able to resume regular activity soon after the surgery. If grommets were inserted we advise you to protect the ears from water by using ear plugs while swimming.
  • An initial follow-up appointment will be scheduled within the first two to four weeks after the procedure. If grommets were inserted then further follow-up appointments will be scheduled at four- to six-month intervals until the tubes are out (usually 6-12 months)


Myringotomy and grommet insertion is a relatively safe procedure with a low risk of serious complications. Possible risks include:

  • Bleeding and infection
  • Persistent drainage of fluid
  • Blocked tubes from blood, mucus or other secretions
  • Scarring or weakening of the eardrum
  • Tubes falling out too early or staying in too long
  • Failure of the eardrum to close after the tube falls out or is removed