• Fluid build up in middle ear (supplied)Source: supplied
Dr Kelvin Kong

29 Aug 2016 - 11:22 AM  UPDATED 29 Aug 2016 - 11:22 AM

After the first two blogs on basic Otitis Media and how to manage the problem, it is time to talk about the operating theatre. It is a pleasure to share the beauty of the Ventilation Tube, better known as the 'grommet'.

Remember the fluid building up in the middle ear can cause lots of issues. Primarily this includes; infections, systemic illness, hearing loss and deficits in learning. When all conservative (non-operative) measures fail, the need to relieve the fluid, pressure and infections with a grommet.

Simply, a ventilation tube (or grommet) is a small plastic tube, smaller than a match head, is placed into the ear drum after a very small cut is made in the ear drum. This procedure is performed under a general anaesthetic for kids. The fluid is suctioned and the grommet keeps the middle ear ventilated.

It is important to note that eustachian tube dysfunction is not altered. This will generally normalise with age. The grommet is merely a mechanism to relieve the pressure, drain the fluid and resolve infection. The goal is to allow HEARING and LEARNING.

The exciting part of the grommet surgery, is that it is very effective at restoring hearing in glue ear. It is not uncommon to hear of funny stories of kids and their reactions to sound. It even makes me smile thinking of the stories as I write this. The grommet varies in time it remains in the eardrum, depending on the type and shape of the grommet. Your surgeon will let you know how long they expect them to last and the general care; the important part is that hearing is restored.