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Insertion of Grommets

Grommets (middle ear ventilation tubes) are small tubes that are used to treat patients with middle ear and Eustachian tube problems. They may be used for patients with acute otitis media, recurrent acute otitis media, chronic otitis media with effusion (glue ear) or for patients who have a Eustachian tube which is not functioning adequately.

What conditions do we treat with grommets?

Acute otitis media

Acute otitis media is an acute infection of the middle ear that can cause pain, fever and an inflamed eardrum. Occasionally the eardrum can burst, resulting in an ear discharge. Often this infection settles down quickly and requires no treatment but sometimes antibiotic treatment is required. Fluid in the middle ear that remains after the infection may take weeks or months to resolve. Acute otitis media most commonly occurs in children but can occur in adults. You can read more about middle ear infections in children here.

Recurrent otitis media

Otitis media is ‘recurrent’ when the infection occurs three or more times in six months or four times in twelve months. Recurrent ear infections can cause permanent inner ear hearing loss and interfere with speech and language development.

Chronic otitis media with effusion (glue ear)

You can read more about chronic otitis media with effusion (glue ear) here.

Complications of persistent glue ear

If glue ear is not treated the eardrum can gradually be pulled inwards causing thinning and occasionally a condition called a “cholesteatoma”. This occurs when skin cells become trapped within the retracted eardrum. Cholesteatomas can grow into the brain or inner ear. They require surgical removal.

What are grommets?

Grommets (ventilating tubes)

Grommets are small tubes placed in the ear drum to treat recurrent acute otitis media and glue ear. Grommets allow air to flow into the middle ear and glue to drain out.


  • Hearing – when grommets are inserted all the glue is suctioned away. Hearing should return to normal levels as long as there has been no inner ear damage from ear infections.
  • Behaviour of children – it has been observed that when glue is removed children’s behaviour often improves.
  • Prevention of retraction pockets and cholesteatoma – grommets prevent further damage to the eardrum, middle ear bones and reduce the risk of cholesteatoma formation.
  • Decrease the frequency of ear infections – grommets help to decrease the frequency and severity of ear infections.
Download Dr Roth’s handout on grommets here – Grommets Patient handout
Download Dr Roth’s Post-operative information sheet on grommets – Grommet Insertion
Before and After Photos Sydney
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