Myringotomy (Tympanotomy)


A surgical procedure to open the tympanic membrane (eardrum) and remove fluid, such as blood, pus, and/or water, from the middle ear. The fluid is typically caused by Eustachian tube function impairment (drainage function), infection or allergy. In many cases, a small tube is also inserted in the middle ear to maintain drainage. This surgery is most often performed on children, but is sometimes performed on adults.

Reasons for Procedure

  • To relieve symptoms caused by pressure due to chronic fluid buildup in the middle ear that lasts 3 to 6 months and does not respond to nonsurgical treatments.
  • To relieve pain in case of severe otitis media not responding to medical treatment.
  • To restore hearing loss caused by fluid build-up and to prevent delayed speech development caused by hearing loss in children.
  • To take sample fluid from the middle ear to examine in the lab for the presence of microorganisms.
  • To place tympanostomy tubes, which help to equalize pressure, in an attempt to prevent recurrent ear infections and the accumulation of fluid behind the ear drum.

Risk Factors for Complications During the Procedure

Complications during myringotomy are rare, and there are no significant risk factors for myringotomy when it is done without general anesthesia. When performed under general anesthesia, myringotomy carries the same risks as any other surgical procedure that requires a patient to be put to sleep.