Ear tubes, aka myringotomy with tube insertion (M&T, BM&T): Middle ear ventilation or pressure-equalizing (PE) tubes are tiny plastic or silicone tubes that are inserted into a small incision made in the ear drum under an operating microscope.
In children, this very brief procedure is performed in an ambulatory operating room setting under general anesthesia, usually just gas administered by the anesthesiologist using a face mask. Postoperative pain is usually minimal to nonexistent, and patients are usually on their way home within an hour of completion of the procedure.
Hearing loss attributable to middle ear fluid is immediately alleviated in most cases. For adults, some tubes can be inserted using only topical or locally injected anesthetics in the office. Longer-acting tubes generally require insertion in an OR setting.
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