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Ear, or PE (pressure equalization) tubes, are surgically placed in the middle ear to allow for the drainage of excess fluids, which can cause ear infections, may cause hearing loss, and may affect speech development. Made from metal or plastic, they are often recommended for children.

What is the procedure for inserting a PE tube?

One of the most common procedures performed in the United States consists of three relatively simple steps:

  • Using a small scalpel or laser, the surgeon will make a tiny incision in the eardrum.
  • The fluid from the middle ear will be suctioned out.
  • The tube will be inserted in the eardrum.

For children, the procedure is typically performed as day surgery, in a hospital under a general anesthetic. For adults, it is typically done in an ENT clinic, the Mueller Surgical Center, with a local anesthetic. The procedure usually takes approximately 15 minutes.

Ear\PE Tubes

Am I or my child a candidate for PE tube surgery?

Although the procedure is simple, there are some risks to be aware of for a pediatric insertion, primarily having to do with anesthesia. For example, there may be an allergic reaction or breathing difficulties. Generally, anyone in good health may be a candidate for a PE tube insertion.

During your consultation with our staff, it is vital that you discuss your (or your child’s) complete medical history, including any known allergies to anesthetics, antibiotics, or other medications.

Why choose Dr. Leeman for a PE tube insertion?

A double board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Leeman has been serving the Austin area community for nearly 20 years and is well versed in performing such surgeries. Additionally, Dr. Smith, Doctor of Audiology, collaborates with Dr. Leeman to ensure the highest level of diagnostic and treatment surgical planning for patients with hearing problems.

What is the recovery from a PE tube insertion?

Any caregiver who has a child with frequent ear infections is all too familiar with the pain these infections cause their children. You will be grateful to know that, apart from irritability and sleepiness on the day of surgery, the procedure results in immediate restoration of any hearing loss and reduced pain from fluid buildup. It will also improve sleep and reduce the behavior problems caused by ear infections.

Any problems with balance or developmental delays due to hearing problems should also be mitigated by the surgery. Your child will be able to resume normal activities within 24 hours. The tubes typically remain in the eardrum for six to 9 months, then fall out. In rare cases, it may need to be removed and if it falls out too soon, another tube may have to be inserted.

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