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Myringotomy in India

What is Myringotomy ?

A myringotomy, sometimes called by other names, is a surgical procedure in which a tiny incision is created in the eardrum (tympanic membrane) to relieve pressure caused by excessive buildup of fluid, or to drain pus from the middle ear. A tympanostomy tube is inserted into the eardrum to keep the middle ear aerated for a prolonged time and to prevent reaccumulation of fluid. Without the insertion of a tube, the incision usually heals spontaneously in two to three weeks. Depending on the type, the tube is either naturally extruded in 6 to 12 months or removed during a minor procedure.

Those requiring myringotomy usually have an obstructed or dysfunctional eustachian tube that is unable to perform drainage or ventilation in its usual fashion. Before the invention of antibiotics, myringotomy without tube placement was also used as a major treatment of severe acute otitis media (middle ear infection).


The words myringotomy, tympanotomy, tympanostomy, and tympanocentesis overlap in meaning. The first two are always synonymous, and the third is often used synonymously.[2] The core idea with all of them is cutting a hole in the eardrum to allow fluid to pass through it. Sometimes a distinction is drawn between myringotomy/tympanotomy and tympanostomy, in parallel with the general distinction between an -otomy (cutting) and an -ostomy (creating a stoma with some degree of permanence or semipermanence). In this distinction, only a tympanostomy involves tympanostomy tubes and creates a semipermanent stoma. This distinction in usage is not always made. The word tympanocentesis specifies that centesis (aspiration for sampling) is being done.


Myringotomy is usually performed as an outpatient procedure. General anesthesia is preferred in children, while local anesthesia suffices for adults. The ear is washed and a small incision made in the eardrum. Any fluid that is present is then aspirated, the tube of choice inserted, and the ear packed with cotton to control any slight bleeding that might occur. This is known as conventional (or cold knife) myringotomy and usually heals in one to two days.

A new variation (called tympanolaserostomy or laser-assisted tympanostomy) uses CO2 laser, and is performed with a computer-driven laser and a video monitor to pinpoint a precise location for the hole. The laser takes one tenth of a second to create the opening, without damaging surrounding skin or other structures. This perforation remains patent for several weeks and provides ventilation of the middle ear without the need for tube placement.

Various tympanostomy tubes are available. Traditional metal tubes have been replaced by more popular silicon, titanium, polyethylene, gold, stainless steel, or fluoroplastic tubes. More recent ones are coated with antibiotics and phosphorylcholine.

  • The placement of tubes is not a cure. If middle ear disease has been severe or prolonged enough to justify tube placement, there is a strong possibility that the child will continue to have episodes of middle ear inflammation or fluid collection. There may be early drainage through the tube (tube otorrhea) in about 15% of patients in the first two weeks after placement, and developing in 25% more than three months after insertion, although usually not a longterm problem.
  • Efficacy
  • Evidence suggests that tympanostomy tubes only offer a short-term hearing improvement in children with simple OME who have no other serious medical problems. No effect on speech and language development has yet been shown.
  • A retrospective study of success rates in 96 adults and 130 children with otitis media treated with CO2 laser myringotomy showed about a 50% cure rate at six months in both groups.To date, there have been no published systematic reviews.
  • Balloon dilation eustachian tuboplasty (BDET), a new treatment, has proven to be effective in treating OME secondary to eustachian tube dysfunction.However, the number of patients in the studies cited, 22 and 8 respectively, is extremely small and simply points to the need for large, well-controlled studies.
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