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Grommet Insertion (Child)

This page will provide you with information about a grommet insertion. For further details, you should speak to your consultant.

What is glue ear?

Glue ear is a common issue whereby fluid gathers in the middle ear behind the eardrum (see figure 1). The condition may result in deafness as well as recurrent earache or infections, leading to discharge from the ear. 

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A grommet is a small plastic or metal tube which, when inserted into your child’s ear, prevents a build-up of fluid by allowing air to enter the middle ear.

What are the alternatives?

Glue ear almost always improves over time; however it is uncertain how long this will take. Surgery is recommended when the condition persists for longer than a few months and is causing problems with hearing, slow speech development, recurrent infections, slow school progress or behavioural problems.

What does the procedure entail?

A typical procedure takes around 20 minutes and is carried out under general anaesthetic. A doctor will make a small hole in your child’s eardrum and use suction to remove excess fluid. This process is known as myringotomy. They will then place either a metal or plastic grommet in the hole.

What are the complications?

Possible complications associated with this type of procedure include:

  • Bleeding
  • Pain and discomfort
  • Discharge from the ear
  • A hole left in the eardrum when the grommet falls out
  • Fluid continuing to build up in the middle ear
  • Fluid leaking from the ear

How long will it take for my child to recover?

It is highly likely that your child will be able to return home the same day as the procedure. They should be able to return to their everyday activities within a couple of days of the operation; however they should not go swimming until they have made a full recovery. Depending on the material and shape of the grommet, it will fall out of your child’s ear after 6-18 months.

Summary

Glue ear is a common issue that may improve on its own without the need for surgery. A grommet is often recommended when the child has been suffering from symptoms for over three months and when their loss of hearing is affecting speech development or their education.  

 

References: EIDO Healthcare Limited - The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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