Practical procedures

Preventing and treating grommet tube otorrhoea

Harvey Coates



Otorrhoea is a common complication after insertion of a grommet tube in a child’s ear. Here is how to prevent the discharge or manage it when it happens.

Article Extract

Grommets (or ventilation or tympanostomy tubes) are commonly inserted in children’s tympanic membranes for otitis media with effusion or recurrent otitis media. In order for grommet tubes to maintain the function of aerating the middle ear, the lumen of the tube must remain unobstructed.

Otorrhoea is a common complication of grommet tube insertion (Figure 1). It can obstruct or block the tube (Figure 2), which may result in recurrence of disease and affect hearing. There are two peak incidences of otorrhoea: in the early postoperative period and approximately three months after the operation.