Ear Tube Surgery: April 20, 2012

With two small children, mom Theresa Cabel is painfully familiar with ear infections.

“It’s just hard seeing your child in pain and not playing and having a good time like they’re supposed to.”

She’s not alone; ear infections are one of the most common health issues in children under three. Having an ear tube inserted is the top medical procedure for children.

“We place them under an operative microscope. It’s through the ear canal, no cuts or incisions on the outside, just a little incision in the eardrum. If there is fluid or puss or anything in the middle ear we suction that out and then we pop the little tube in,” says Dr. Daniel McKenna, an otolaryngologist on the medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.

About the size of the tip of your pen, the tubes fall out naturally within a year. A child will never know they’re there, with the exception that they don’t get frequent ear infections.

The procedure is performed under light anesthesia.

“It’s typically done with a mask where they just breathe in gas. Then they literally are awake within seconds of us finishing. I let my kids go back to daycare, school whatever activity the next day,” says Dr. McKenna.

Many doctors find surgery preferable to repeated doses of antibiotics. Something Theresa struggled with.

“Just because of the frequency and the exposure to all the medicines he was having to take.”

She was comforted to know there was a safe, painless procedure that could take the sting out of childhood.