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About the Surgery
To help keep your child’s middle ear free of fluid build-up and infection, a doctor may need to insert ventilation tubes in the ears or remove the adenoids (power-assisted adenoidectomy).
Ear ventilation tubes (vent tubes) or a power-assisted adenoidectomy help prevent fluid buildup and infection in the ear. Which method is used depends on your child’s condition and what’s causing the ear infections.
Your paediatrician may recommend vent tubes for your child if your child has had an ear infection and there’s still fluid in the ear after initial treatment, or if your child has had several ear infections during a year.
If your child’s adenoids are enlarged and causing ear infections, your doctor may suggest removing the adenoids with a power-assisted adenoidectomy procedure.
More: Ventilation tubes
More: Power-assisted adenoidectomy
All treatment and outcome results are specific to the individual patient, and will form part of your consultation with your healthcare professional.
Please consult your healthcare professional for a full list of benefits, indications, precautions, clinical results, and other important medical information that pertains to vent tubes or a power-assisted adenoidectomy.
Placing vent tubes in the ears is a straightforward and common procedure. Power-assisted adenoidectomy is a more recent method for removing adenoids. If you don’t find the answers to your questions here, be sure to ask your doctor.
More: Ventilation tubes
More: Power-assisted adenoidectomy
Fluid trapped behind the eardrum is a breeding ground for bacteria and infection. An ear ventilation tube (or vent tube) is a very small tube that’s placed in the eardrum. It’s also called a myringotomy tube, tympanostomy tube, or pressure equalization (PE) tube. Vent tubes let fluid trapped behind the eardrum drain, which helps prevent ear infections (otitis media).
The operation to insert a vent tube is straightforward. The ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist or ear specialist makes a very small cut in the eardrum and puts a vent tube in one or both ears. The vent tubes should cause no pain or hearing loss.
In children, a vent tube operation is usually done under general anaesthesia at a hospital or day surgery centre. In adults, it may be performed in an office visit.
A child’s Eustachian tubes sometimes can't drain fluid away from the middle ear into the throat very well. If fluid builds up behind the eardrum, bacteria can grow. This is how ear infections begin. After an ear infection is gone, fluid often remains behind the eardrum.
A very small ear ventilation tube (vent tube) is put into the eardrum to allow fluid drainage and help prevent further infections.
The Eustachian tube is a canal that runs from the middle part of each ear to the back of the throat. It does two things. Firstly, it keeps the air pressure inside the middle ear the same as the air pressure outside the ear. This helps you hear better. Secondly, it helps fluid from the middle ear drain into the throat.
In young children, the Eustachian tube is smaller, narrower, and more horizontal. This makes it easier for germs to move from the throat to the ear and for the tube to become blocked. Most children stop having ear infections around age 6 because their Eustachian tubes are more fully developed.
A vent tube assists fluid drain out of the middle ear, which reduces the chance of ear infections coming back.
A vent tube can be recommended if your child has several of the following conditions:
Recurrent ear fluid buildup and ear infections are usually caused by a blocked Eustachian tube. Additional factors that may make your child’s condition worse include:
The adenoids are a single clump of tissue that’s very high in the back of your throat, behind your nose. It is believed that the adenoids help trap germs so they can’t get further into the body.
Sometimes, however, the adenoids may cause ear infections when the trapped bacteria travel up the Eustachian tube to the middle ear. In some cases, the trapped germs make the adenoids swell and block the Eustachian tube, causing fluid and bacteria to build up in the middle ear.
During a power-assisted adenoidectomy, the surgeon uses a special instrument called a microdebrider (MY-cro-duh-BRY-der). It has a tiny rotating tip for removing the enlarged adenoids.
The microdebrider has a curved tip which helps the surgeon put the instrument where it’s needed to remove the adenoids.
The adenoids are a single clump of tissue that is very high in the back of your throat, behind your nose. It is believed that the adenoids help trap germs so they can’t get further into the body. Sometimes, however, the adenoids may help cause infections when the trapped germs either travel up the Eustachian tube to the middle ear or make the adenoids swell and block the Eustachian tube.
A 2003 research study showed the differences between power-assisted, curette (cutting), and suction cautery (heating) adenoidectomies.1 In this study, researchers tracked 1270 children who had already had two ear ventilation tube procedures for one year. The purpose of the study was to find out how often children had to have a third set of vent tubes put in, even though they’d had an adenoidectomy.
The results of the study showed that the children who had a power-assisted adenoidectomy were much less likely to need a third set of vent tubes.
With any removal method, if too much tissue is removed, nearby tissues can be damaged and potentially cause complications. If not enough is removed, the adenoids may grow back and the infection could return.
Because the microdebrider used in a power-assisted adenoidectomy can be positioned and moved very precisely, it can give the surgeon more control and allow the removal of only the tissue required. Also, the microdebrider gives the surgeon a direct view of the adenoid tissue. Finally, the shape of the device provides access to the hard-to-reach adenoids.
April M, Ward R, Bent J. Power-Assisted Adenoidectomy in the Treatment of Chronic Otitis Media with Effusion. Poster Presentation at American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology, May 4, 2003, Nashville, TN.
Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.