A grommet, or a tympanostomy tube, is a drainage system used (frequently in children and rarely in adults) in the case of a breach of the middle ear, specifically near the eardrum. It is a kind of small hollow plastic tube that is placed through the eardrum, allowing communication between the middle ear and the external auditory canal. It is used particularly in the case of repeated ear infections, which could be have long-term auditory repercussions. This technique can also be used in the case of ear infections that are resistant to antibiotic treatment. The grommet can also be used in cases of chronic otitis, as well as secretory otitis, which corresponds to the chronic presence of liquid in the middle ear. The interest of the grommet is to prevent complications, allowing the correct discharge of liquid which would occur at the level of the middle ear in the presence of a closed and sealed eardrum.
The installation of a grommet is performed under anesthesia because it requires the practitioner to do a small incision in the eardrum: the operation is called paracentesis. It is necessary for the grommet remain in place between 6 and 12 months, at which point it will be removed. It may so happen that the perforation of the eardrum does not close naturally when the grommet is removed. In this case, surgery is unavoidable.
Wearing a grommet requires compliance with certain rules, namely:
- prolonged baths are permitted only with protection (wearing caps);
- swimming in the sea or swimming in general is allowed only on the surface;
- diving is prohibited until a year after removing the tympanostomy tube;
- scuba diving is not allowed.
However, wearing a dolly does not preclude using tunnels or travel by plane or by train.
It may so happen that the grommet is expelled naturally, a very common phenomenon. Just ask the practitioner for a new ventilation tube to be made. If the pellet becomes clogged due to excessive earwax, it loses its effectiveness. The physician removes it only if the OME is healed. In the absence of healing, the specialist places a new grommet, which implies a new dose of general anesthesia.