While you are deep asleep and pain-free (using general anesthesia), a small incision is made in the eardrum, and the accumulated fluid is suctioned out. A small tube is inserted through the incised eardrum in order to dry out the middle ear and prevent the fluid from re-accumulating. The procedure takes less than 30 minutes, and the anesthesia used is temporary and safe. The incision heals without sutures and usually the hole closes spontaneously. The ear tubes fall out after a few months.
Update Date 4/21/2015
Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical assistant professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.