Myringotomy-Definition, Ear Anatomy and Preparation for the Surgery

The term ‘myringotomy’ is a surgery where a tiny incision is made on the eardrum to drain out any fluid or pus that may have accumulated in the middle ear. Before going further, it would be helpful to understand the anatomy of the ear and why myringotomy surgery is needed.

Ear Anatomy

The Eustachian tube is a tube that connects the middle ear (that is the area behind the eardrum) to the nasopharynx. The main functions of the Eustachian tube are ventilation and regulation of air pressure in the middle ear, prevention of fluids entering from the nose and throat into the middle ear and drain off any fluid that might have entered the middle ear.

The Eustachian tube is generally closed and opens only when we yawn, swallow or talk. In children it also opens with crying. When the tube is open, any fluid in the middle ear drains out. Bacteria or viruses can affect the Eustachian tube causing it to swell thereby preventing it from opening. This can cause fluid to accumulate in the middle ear, especially fluid secreted by the middle ear itself due to a cold. With prolonged blockage of the Eustachian tube, the fluid in the middle ear can become infected causing acute otitis media.

Symptoms of otitis media include fullness in ear, difficulty hearing, ear pain, headache, fever, uneasiness and/or difficulty sleeping. Otitis media occurs mostly in children. If left untreated, otitis media can lead to hearing loss and speech problems. A myringotomy addresses the problem and can prevent hearing and speech disabilities.

Preparation for the Surgery

Usually there is no need for the patient to stay overnight at a hospital or medical center for the procedure to be carried out. An anesthesiologist after checking previous medical history of the patient, monitors him throughout the surgery. In case the operating doctor advices to have prelaboratory studies, then it should be done well in advance.

Since, this kind of surgery is carried out mostly on children, it becomes very necessary to prepare the child mentally as well before the operation. So, if the child is old enough to understand things, it is always better to brief him/her about the entire episode of the operation. This will relieve the child of the anxiety as he/she will be assured that the ear ache will be gone after this.

Nothing is to be consumed at least 6 to 12 hours before the surgery as even a tiny amount of food in the stomach may cause anesthetic complications.

In case, the patient is sick with fever or any other discomfort in the body, the day before or on the day of surgery, the doctor in charge should be consulted. The doctor will be able to advice as to whether to carry on with the surgery or not.

Myringotomy, The Surgery Procedure, Risks and Complications

Myringotomy, Post Surgery, Follow-up Care