Ear Infections Sometimes Need Surgery

Almost everyone has an ear infection story to tell. There is probably one common thread: the infection happened as a child. Many children are prone to ear infections. Most kids will get at least one infection by age 3. Ear infections are an inflammation of the middle ear. In some cases, surgery helps treat the condition. The doctor may perform a myringotomy or tympanostopy. But what’s the difference?

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Why do ear infections happen?

Before going into the surgical details, parents and kids alike should understand what’s happening in the ear. The ear has 3 parts: the outer ear, middle, and inner ear. The eustachian tube then connects the middle ear to the nasal area. This tube helps with balance, pressure, and drains fluid from the ear. If the tubes become inflamed, this can cause a buildup of fluid in the middle ear. The resulting bacteria can cause swelling, pain, fever, and reduced balance. Children are more prone to infections as the ear is still growing and developing.

Treatment and chronic infections

Doctors treat most ear infections with pain medication and antibiotics. Ear infections usually subside within a few days. However, fluid buildup can last several weeks. Parents must make sure to follow the doctor’s instructions to resolve the issue. If the ear infection happens several times a year and does not respond to antibiotics, further treatment may be needed. The fluid buildup may not be allowing the child to fight off future infections. At this point, the doctor may opt to perform ENT surgery. The procedure may be a myringotomy or a tympanostomy.

Cutting to the chase with myringotomy

An ENT surgeon will perform a myringotomy. Myringotomy is a quick, outpatient procedure to relieve pressure and fluid. The patient will be under general anesthesia. The surgeon then makes a tiny incision at the entrance of the middle ear, called the tympanic membrane. Sometimes, the surgeon then uses a small tool to suction out any excess liquid. Over time, myringotomies have minimal scarring and discomfort. The procedure has a high success rate and can even prevent future infections.

Supporting surgery with tubes

Myringotomy is the primary procedure to resolve chronic ear infections. However, the surgeon may perform a companion procedure called tympanostomy. With tympanostomy, the surgeon inserts small tubes into the cut created by myringotomy. The tubes allow excess fluid to drain out of the middle ear. Tympanostomy tubes also keep the middle ear ventilated while improving hearing. An ENT surgeon will often perform both procedures in the same session.

Myringotomy and tympanostomy together

The major difference comes down to surgeon preference. Since tympanostomy is a supporting procedure, doctors can perform myringotomy without the tubes. However, tympanostomy tubes have a high success rate. Studies show that tympanostomy helps with healing, hearing, and reduces the chances of reinfection. So in many cases, the surgeon will opt for ear tubes. Tympanostomy tubes are safe and typically fall out after several months as the incision heals.

Consider surgery today

If a doctor decides on surgery, the words myringotomy and tympanostomy will come up in conversation. Myringotomy can bring much-need relief. And the supporting tympanostomy tubes allow the middle ear to stay ventilated. Parents should speak with an ENT doctor about the child’s chronic ear infections immediately.

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“Amazing nurses, very caring and friendly and put both me and my son at ease.”

“The staff was great, especially Mary and Marcia. Marcia was extremely helpful post-op and made sure I was comfortable and well-cared for.”

“No severe pain – Just a little discomfort – I was asked several times during procedure if I was OK – they showed genuine concern for my well being.”
“Dr. Best…is the best!”
“Experience was amazing. The nurses my son needed at this time couldn’t have been chosen any more perfect. They were supportive and understanding, patient and just great human beings.THANK YOU KINDLY ”
“Dr. Tupper was amazing! He spent time explaining exactly what he was doing, what I would experience and made sure I was comfortable.”

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“Rebecca was amazing. I have always had trouble in the past with getting an IV started. I told Rebecca I was concerned about it. She got it on the 1st try – no digging in my arm and NO bruising the next day.”
“Dr. Dedhia made everything clear and even scheduled an early follow-up appt so I could get back to work sooner.”
“Everyone was friendly and concerned about my comfort. They frequently asked how I was doing, or if I needed something.”
“Incredibly professional, friendly and confidence of knowing their roles as healthcare employees. Excellent!”

“Entire staff was knowledgeable and courteous. They genuinely cared for my well being and made sure my wife and I were taken care of.”

“The nurses were very nice and caring!”

“All staff were wonderful.”

“The staff was very polite, they were excellent. They explained exactly what was going on.”

“Marcia and staff were excellent and genuinely cared for my well being. Wish I could have taken them home.”

“The STAFF from the moment you walk in were the nicest people I’ve encountered at a medical facility.”
“Experience was amazing. The nurses my son needed at this time couldn’t have been chosen any more perfect. They were supportive and understanding, patient and just great human beings.THANK YOU KINDLY ”

“I can’t say enough about Marcia and the entire team. The care I received was well beyond anything I could have expected.”

“The STAFF from the moment you walk in were the nicest people I’ve encountered at a medical facility.”

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