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HealthInfo Canterbury

Ventilation tubes (grommets)

Ventilation tubes, which are also called grommets, are small plastic tubes that allow air into the middle ear. They are put into the eardrum with a short operation called a myringotomy. They are used to treat glue ear and recurrent ear infections.

Kidshealth has more detailed information on ventilation tubes.

The operation takes 10 to 15 minutes and is done under a general anaesthetic (your child is asleep).

Ventilation tubes usually stay in the eardrum for 12 to 18 months. Some children may need further surgery, if their glue ear or recurrent infections return after the ventilation tubes come out.

Occasionally, there is a small hole in the ear drum after the ventilation tube comes out. If this does not heal, the child may need another operation to repair the hole. Very rarely, ventilation tubes stay in the ear for a long time and the child needs another short operation to remove them.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by clinical director, Otolaryngology, Canterbury DHB. August 2015.

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Page reference: 138077

Review key: HIEIG-48027