Risks

Ear tube placement is a relatively safe procedure with a low risk of serious complications. Possible risks include:

  • Bleeding and infection
  • Persistent drainage of fluid
  • Blocked tubes from blood, mucus or other secretions
  • Scarring or weakening of the eardrum
  • Tubes falling out too early or staying in too long
  • Failure of eardrum to close after the tube falls out or is removed

Anesthesia

Surgery for ear tube placement usually requires general anesthesia, which carries some risks as well. Although the risks of anesthesia are very low in otherwise healthy children, possible problems include:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Heart irregularities
  • Nausea or vomiting after the procedure
April 19, 2016
References
  1. Ear tubes. American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. http://www.entnet.org/content/ear-tubes. Accessed Jan. 11, 2016.
  2. Ear infections in children. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/earinfections.aspx. Accessed Jan. 9, 2016.
  3. Longo DL, et al., eds. Sore throat, earache, and upper respiratory symptoms. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 19th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2015. http://accessmedicine.com. Accessed Jan. 20, 2016.
  4. Questions to ask before your child's surgery. American Society of Anesthesiologists. http://www.asahq.org/lifeline/anesthesia%20topics/questions%20to%20ask%20before%20your%20childs%20surgery. Accessed Jan. 20, 2016.
  5. Esherick JS, et al. Disease management. In: Current Practice Guidelines in Primary Care 2015. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2015. http://accessmedicine.com. Accessed Jan. 20, 2016.
  6. Otitis media (secretory). Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/ear,-nose,-and-throat-disorders/middle-ear-and-tympanic-membrane-disorders/otitis-media-(secretory). Accessed Jan. 20, 2016.