A myringotomy is a surgical procedure in which a small opening is made into the ear drum to drain fluid from the middle ear. An Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist (ENT) may recommend this procedure to drain this fluid and restore hearing loss resulting from fluid accumulation in the middle ear. Myringotomy procedures are frequently a component of longer surgery to install ear tubes. Since tubes are commonly installed in both ears, the full surgery is called Bilateral Myringotomy – Tubes (BM-T). Many individuals mistakenly believe that only children can benefit from this kind of procedure. Although middle ear fluid accumulation is much more common in children, adults also may need to seek this form of treatment from a qualified ENT.
How does it work?
Ear infections can cause inflammation which encourages pus and mucus to accumulate to shield middle ear tissue from additional tissue damage. During a typical 10 to 15-minute BM-T surgery, tiny ear tubes are placed inside the Eustachian tubes or tubes that drain the ear into the back of the throat. The surgically-implanted tubes are so small that 25 of them could fit on a single dime! They are small tubes with a great purpose. When ear tubes are implanted, they carry air behind the eardrum. This air flow either dries up the fluid in the middle ear or helps it to flow out of the ear. Once the fluid is no longer present, the pain of the ear infection subsides and hearing returns in most cases.
Draining the fluid resolves conductive hearing loss. This type of hearing loss occurs when something interferes with sound waves traveling into the ear, in this case fluid in the middle ear. Draining the middle ear fluid that interferes with hearing is one of the main reasons an ENT may want to perform a myringotomy as part of a BM-T surgery. As with any medical condition, patients need to stay informed and ask their healthcare provider any questions. They also may benefit from seeking multiple opinions before considering surgery or other procedures.