Child in Pain

Myringotomy tubes, or ear tubes, are used to treat patients with otitis media, middle ear inflammation caused by fluid buildup or infection.

Doctors insert these small tubes, which look like tiny spools, into the eardrums to relieve symptoms and prevent future problems. The procedure is most often performed on children who have frequent middle ear infections that don’t go away with antibiotics.

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How Do Tubes Treat Ear Problems in Children?

Ear tubes allow air to flow behind the eardrum, helping to drain or dry up any fluid that has collected there. This decreases the chance of future infections and reduces pain and pressure from the infection and inflammation.

What Are Signs Your Child Might Need Ear Tubes?

Your doctor may suggest a bilateral myringotomy and tubes procedure (BM-T) if your child has had:

  • Recurring middle ear infections that don’t get better with antibiotics
  • Middle ear fluid that won’t go away
  • Frequent ear infections that can lead to hearing loss or speech delays

How Are Ear Tubes Inserted?

BM-T is a common outpatient surgical procedure. It does not require an overnight hospital stay. Here’s what to expect:

  • Your child will undergo general anesthesia. The care team will carefully monitor your child to ensure safety and comfort during the procedure.
  • A surgeon will make a small hole in both eardrums, suctioning out fluid from the middle ear canal.
  • The surgeon will place the small tubes into the holes in the eardrums.

The procedure takes 10 to 15 minutes, with a few hours to recover after surgery. Most ear tubes come out on their own within six to 18 months as the eardrums heal.

UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh

Our pediatricians, surgeons, and medical experts at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh have vast experience in bilateral myringotomy and tube procedures. To contact the Otolaryngology Department, call 412-692-5460, or visit the FAQ section to learn more.

About Pediatrics

From nutrition to illnesses, from athletics to school, children will face many challenges growing up. Parents often will make important health care decisions for them. We hope to help guide both of you in that journey. UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh ranks consistently on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll. UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital is a longtime national leader for women and their newborns. We aim to provide the best care for your children, from birth to adulthood and beyond.