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Grommet insertion

What is a grommet?


A grommet is a ventilate tube.  They are usually made of plastic and sit in the ear drum.  They allow air into the space behind the ear drum , the middle ear.


Why might my child need grommets?


The 2 commonest reasons for grommet insertion are hearing loss from glue ear and recurrent ear infections.  In most children grommet insertion works very effectively to relieve these problems.


What is involved in surgery?


Grommet insertion takes about 5 minutes and is generally performed under general anaesthetic.  Almost all children can go home the same day.  There are no cuts on the outside of the ear, the grommet is put in down the ear canal.


What care is needed post-operatively?


You should keep the ear dry for 2 weeks.  Otherwise, very little specific aftercare is needed.  In general, it is not a particularly painful procedure and most children can go back to school the following day.  Occasionally children can develop discharge from the ear after grommet insertion.  This is almost always a sign of infection and, if it does not rapidly settle, needs treatment with some antibiotic ear drops.


Can my child swim with grommets in?


There should be no restrictions on swimming for most children, especially if it is just once or twice a week.  Very occasionally, swimming can trigger ear infections and under these circumstances it is sometimes helpful to use ear plugs.  Otherwise children should be enjoying the water!


What about flying with grommets?


There is no problem here.  In general, children are much more comfortable flying with grommets than they might be without.


Don’t grommets fall out?


Yes, grommets fall out, on average 9-12 months after they have been put in.  The good news is that 70-80% of children require no further treatment after that.


What are the risks of grommet insertion?


Neil will discuss these with you.  There is a small risk of infection.  This is almost always very effectively treated with antibiotic ear drops.  A very small number of children require removal of the grommet under a short anaesthetic to allow infection to settle.  There is a small risk of the grommet leaving a perforation of the ear drum after it falls out.  Very occasionally this can need surgery to repair it.

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