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Myringotomy and insertion of grommets

The operation your child will be having is called a myringotomy (a tiny cut in the ear drum) to allow the insertion of grommets.

A grommet next to a 5p piece. It is very, very small, made of plastic with a small hole in.

A grommet next to a 5p coin. It is less than 3mm long.

A grommet inside an eardrum

A grommet shown inside an eardrum

Why is this needed?

This operation is carried out mainly for a mild conductive hearing loss which will have been confirmed by your child’s hearing test results. This means that sound waves cannot pass into your child’s middle ear which is usually a result of a build up of fluid in the middle ear, behind the eardrum.

The hearing is usually worse during the winter months when your child is more likely to have a cold. This is a very common condition in young children, and usually it clears up without any treatment by the age of 7 years. However, it is advisable for your child to have further hearing tests to make sure this happens.

Is there anything I can do to help my child avoid this operation?

Yes, you can:

  • avoid exposing your child to cigarette smoke
  • make sure that your child has a clear view of your face when you are talking to them and speak clearly
  • try to keep background noise to a minimum when talking to your child
  • make sure that their school nursery are aware of your child’s hearing loss to allow them to make reasonable adjustments

Make sure everyone who spends time with your child is aware that they may have difficulty with hearing, particularly in noisy surroundings.

Are there any other treatments?

The short operation involved in placing of grommets into your child’s ear drums is usually only suggested if the hearing loss was notable, or was causing problems for your child, such as delayed speech and language development or difficulties in school. This decision is usually made after your child has had at least 2 hearing tests and be seen by an ear, nose throat (ENT) doctor who will discuss different treatment choices with you.

A treatment which does not involve an operation is the possibility of them using a low-powered hearing aid until they grow out of the condition.

Further information is available from NICE.

On the day of the operation

What time will my child have their operation?

You will have been informed whether your child’s operation is in the morning or afternoon in the letter you received from the hospital.

What time should I bring my child to the ward?

You will have received a letter telling you the date of your child’s operation and the time you need to bring them into hospital.

If your child’s operation is in the morning you need to arrive on the ward at 7.45 am if your child is being admitted to Day Care.

If your child’s operation is in the afternoon you need to arrive on the ward at 12pm (midday) if your child is being admitted to Day Care.

What should I do if my child has a sore throat, a temperature or is unwell a few days before or the day of their operation?

You need to telephone the hospital on 0114 271 7286 and tell us. You will then be told whether it would be safe for your child to have their operation as planned.

What time should I give my child their last food and drink?

If your child’s operation is in the morning they can eat until midnight and then have clear juice or water until 6am.

Information:

If the operation is in the morning they must not have anything after 6am or their operation may be cancelled. This includes chewing gum.

If your child’s operation is in the afternoon they must have finished their breakfast by 7.30am. They can continue to drink clear juice or water until 10.30am.

Information:

If the operation is in the afternoon they must not have anything after 11am or their operation may be cancelled. This includes chewing gum.

What will happen when we arrive on the ward?

An anaesthetist will visit your child and make sure they are fit for their operation. They may prescribe some numbing cream for your child’s hand so that it doesn’t hurt when a tiny tube is inserted into your child’s hand to allow the anaesthetic to be given. This tube is inserted when they are in the anaesthetic room.

The surgeon will also see you and your child before their operation.

A nurse will take your child’s temperature, weigh them and put their name band on their wrist. Your child will be asked to put on a theatre gown or their pyjamas. If your child has long hair they will need to tie it up in a ponytail with a non-metallic band. All jewellery and nail varnish must be removed. The nurse will then apply the magic cream to their hands.

Your child will either walk or be taken to theatre on a trolley. 1 parent or carer may go to the anaesthetic room and stay with your child until they are asleep.

How long will the operation take?

Your child will be away from the ward for about 1 to 2 hours altogether.

After the operation

Will I be there when my child wakes up?

The escort who takes you and your child to the anaesthetic room will tell you how you will be contacted so that you can be with your child.

Will my child have any pain?

Your child will have been given some strong painkillers in theatre before they wake up.

They may have some pain later but the nurse will give them some medication to ease this.

When can my child have something to eat or drink?

Your child can have their first drink as soon as they wake up after the operation. Once they have had a drink the nurse will tell you when they can have something to eat. This is usually a slice of toast or a biscuit.

When can my child go home?

If your child has no pain, their temperature is normal and they do not feel sick, they will be allowed home the same day.

How do I look after my child at home?

Information:

You need to keep your child’s ears dry for at least the first 2 weeks following the operation. If this needs to be any longer your doctor will tell you.

When you wash your child’s hair or they have a bath or shower you need to place a piece of cotton wool in one or both of their ears and then cover this with Vaseline. This will make a waterproof seal and stop water getting into your child’s ears. Water containing shampoo especially causes irritation following this operation.

If your child goes swimming they should wear ear plugs and avoid diving in or diving down to the bottom of the pool.

Contact us

Call the ENT surgery team on 0114 226 7877.

Further reosurces

Please read our resource for more information about risks of anaesthetics.

Is something missing from this resource that you think should be included? Please let us know

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Disclaimer

Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

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NHS

Western Bank
Sheffield
S10 2TH

United Kingdom

Switchboard: 0114 271 7000

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