ABOUT EAR TUBES

 

Ear infections are one of the most common childhood illnesses with most children experiencing at least one episode by age 3.  In some children, ear infections lead to ear pain, irritability, fever, and difficulty sleeping.

If medication does not help, your Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor may recommend a surgery to insert ear tubes (sometimes called tympanostomy tubes, pressure-equalization tubes, or grommets).

 

 Ear infections can affect sleep

Ear infections can affect sleep

 

The middle ear is the space behind the ear drum.  Normally, this space is full of air, allowing the ear to work properly.  In some children fluid can build up, leading to hearing difficulty, painful pressure, or repeated infections.

If surgery is recommended, an ENT doctor will place an ear tube across the ear drum.  The tube creates a tiny pathway that allows air to enter the middle ear, which is effective in encouraging the elimination of fluid and preventing repeat infections.  After several months, the ear drum heals and the tube falls out into the ear canal.

 fluid in the middle ear with a tube placed

fluid in the middle ear with a tube placed

 

Traditionally, ear tube surgery has been performed in an operating room, with your child put under general anesthesia (unconscious) during the procedure.  

The OTTER Study is investigating a new technology that allows your Ear, Nose and Throat doctor to place ear tubes in their office, without the need for general anesthesia.  The technology is called TULA (Tubes Under Local Anesthesia).

Please watch the video below for more information about TULA.

 Traditional ear tube surgery performed with general anesthesia

Traditional ear tube surgery performed with general anesthesia