A myringotomy, sometimes called by other names, is a surgical procedure in which a tiny incision is created in the eardrum (tympanic membrane) to relieve pressure caused by excessive buildup of fluid, or to drain pus from the middle ear. A tympanostomy tube is inserted into the eardrum to keep the middle ear aerated for a prolonged time and to prevent reaccumulation of fluid. Without the insertion of a tube, the incision usually heals spontaneously in two to three weeks. Depending on the type, the tube is either naturally extruded in 6 to 12 months or removed during a minor procedure

Those requiring myringotomy usually have an obstructed or dysfunctional eustachian tube that is unable to perform drainage or ventilation in its usual fashion. Before the invention of antibiotics, myringotomy without tube placement was also used as a major treatment of severe acute otitis media (middle ear infection ).There are numerous indications for tympanostomy in the pediatric age group, the most frequent including chronic otitis media with effusion (OME) which is unresponsive to antibiotics, and recurrent otitis media. Adult indications differ somewhat and include Eustachian tube dysfunction with recurrent signs and symptoms, including fluctuating hearing loss, vertigo, tinnitus, and a severe retraction pocket in the tympanic membrane. Recurrent episodes of barotrauma, especially with flying, diving, or hyperbaric chamber treatment, may merit consideration.


Myringotomy is usually performed as an outpatient procedure. General anesthesia is preferred in children, while local anesthesia suffices for adults. The ear is washed and a small incision made in the eardrum. Any fluid that is present is then aspirated, the tube of choice inserted, and the ear packed with cotton to control any slight bleeding that might occur. This is known as conventional (or cold knife) myringotomy and usually heals in one to two days.

A new variation (called tympanolaserostomy or laser-assisted tympanostomy) uses CO2 laser, and is performed with a computer-driven laser and a video monitor to pinpoint a precise location for the hole. The laser takes one tenth of a second to create the opening, without damaging surrounding skin or other structures. This perforation remains patent for several weeks and provides ventilation of the middle ear without the need for tube placement.

Though laser myringotomies maintain patency slightly longer than cold-knife myringotomies (two to three weeks for laser and two to three days for cold knife without tube insertion), they have not proven to be more effective in the management of effusion. One randomized controlled study found that laser myringotomies are safe but less effective than ventilation tube in the treatment of chronic OME, Multiple occurrences in children, a strong history of allergies in children, the presence of thick mucoid effusions, and history of tympanostomy tube insertion in adults, make it likely that laser tympanostomy will be ineffective.

Various tympanostomy tubes are available. Traditional metal tubes have been replaced by more popular silicon, titanium, polyethylene, gold, stainless steel, or fluoroplastic tubes. More recent ones are coated with antibiotics and phosphorylcholine.

Incision types

Cutting type: given in posterior inferior quadrant,this is done in cases of acute otitis media.

Splitting type: given in anterior inferior quadrant ,this is done in cases of serous otitis media ("glue ear"), this type of incision is suitable for grommet insertion.

Incision is either 'j'(hockey) shaped or curvilinear shaped and it is given from below upward so as to ease the drainage.