Surgery: What to Expect – Ventilation Tubes Ear Infections


Ear ventilation tube (vent tube) surgery has been done since the 1950s. The procedure is called a myringotomy. It’s an outpatient operation, which means the child will have the surgery and usually go home the same day.

Before Surgery

A healthcare team will be met with before the operation, and they’ll answer any questions that there might be. The anaesthetist will get a medical history of the child and perform a physical examination before developing an anaesthesia plan. They will discuss the plan and answer any questions.

During Surgery

Vent tube surgery usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes. The operation involves making a very small opening in the eardrum to drain the fluid behind it and relieve pressure on the middle ear.

A tiny tube is then placed in the opening to keep the middle ear ventilated and prevent fluid from accumulating again. The tube usually falls out on its own after 6 to 12 months.

After Surgery

The recovery room nurses will monitor the child for approximately 2 to 4 hours after surgery to make sure there are no complications. If all goes well, they can usually leave the hospital the same day.

The ENT specialist may prescribe antibiotic ear drops to prevent infection where the vent tube was inserted. The ENT specialist should be called if the child has drainage from the ear, pain in the ear, a fever or if the vent tube should happen to fall out before it’s supposed to. If this happens, another procedure will be necessary to re-insert it.

Detailed follow-up care is based on the judgment of the ENT specialist. If there are questions or concerns, these should be discussed with the them.