Answering your questions
Grommets are a surgical procedure that’s carried out under general anesthetic to fix glue ear.
Glue ear occurs when a thick sticky substance collects behind the eardrum preventing you from hearing properly.
What are grommets and why are they used?
Grommets are small plastic tubes that are inserted across the eardrum to create a deliberate small hole. This allows air to pass across the eardrum. It can help restore hearing in a condition called ‘glue ear’. Thick, sticky fluid collects behind the eardrum and prevents transmission of sound. Glue ear is common in childhood and typically follows the common cold. Adults may also require grommets- either for middle ear fluid, or to treat a deformity of the eardrum. Grommets are usually temporary, and fall out into the ear canal after 6-12 months. The hole then usually heals over. In some patients the fluid behind the eardrum may then return. If this occurs one option is to insert a long-term grommet of a different design.
Who does the operation?
All of our consultant surgeons are able to carry out grommet insertion. They take place under local or general anaesthetic, and the operation takes approximately 45 minutes.
Before the Operation
You can help to ensure success of your operation and avoid complications by following a few simple steps. Stop smoking (if you do) at least 4 weeks prior to the procedure. Maintain a healthy weight and taking regular exercise.
Before the operation you will need to have an up to date hearing test (audiogram).
The surgeon will make a small hole in your eardrum and remove the fluid using suction. The grommet will then be placed in the hole. The grommet design depends on how long the grommet should stay in place.
After the operation
Patients are discharged from hospital on the day of the operation. Placing a grommet in your ear is not usually painful. Sometimes the ear can discharge fluid for a few days following the procedure. Try to keep the ear dry when bathing for the first 2 weeks. Swimming should be avoided for 6 weeks following the operation, and deep diving (greater than 2 metres depth) should be avoided for the duration that the grommet is present in the eardrum.
is a follow up appointment required?
A follow up appointment at 3 months post-op preceded by a hearing test is the usual plan.