Inflammation of the middle ear occurs because of infection. It causes fluid accumulation and leads to pressure, pain and sometimes loss of hearing. Myringotomy is a surgical procedure to treat inflammation in the middle ear, and involves making an incision in the eardrum or tympanic membrane to allow fluid to be suctioned out from the middle ear. This may be followed by the insertion of a tube or grommet that prevents the closure of the incision, allowing further drainage. This procedure is commonly performed in children since ear infections in adults is usually not persistent.
Myringotomy is performed under general anesthesia. The ear is irrigated clean, a small incision is made in the tympanic membrane and fluid from the middle ear is drawn out and sent to the laboratory for analysis. A grommet may then be inserted and cotton placed to control bleeding. The eardrum heals around the grommet which is left in place until the drainage stops. It is later removed or falls out on its own, after which the eardrum heals and closes. Laser myringotomy may also be performed under local anesthesia, which results in less post-operative pain.
With the eardrum open, you are instructed to prevent water from entering into the ear by using clean ear plugs while bathing or swimming. As with most invasive procedures, myringotomy with or without grommet insertion may be associated with certain risks and complications such as incomplete closure of the eardrum, formation of a mass in the middle ear and inward movement of the ear tube causing inflammation.