Glossary of Terms
Learn About Tonsils and Adenoids



What are Grommets?

Grommets are made of an inert material and are essentially a window to allow ventilation of the middle ear to the external ear and outside environment.


Reasons for Grommets


Glenn Watson inspects the ear canal of a young patient

The middle ear is a space behind the eardrum. During your consultation with Mr Watson, you will see a grommet.

The middle ear has an air vent (Eustachian tube) between the middle ear and back of the nose.

This ventilation tube, particularly in children, may not work very well.

Negative pressure, therefore is generated within the middle ear. Fluid then is produced by the mucosa that lines the middle ear.

The resulting pressure changes and fluid within the middle ear causes deafness, pain, fevers and, sometimes, febrile convulsions in children. Children can, therefore, have many bouts of otitis media as described.


 Grommets are very small ventilation tubes made of plastic that are about 2mm in width. The grommet sits in the eardrum with one flange sitting on the inside and one on the outside of the eardrum.


Operation of ventilation tubes

The operation is a short procedure, done under general anaesthetic as a day case. The Surgeon makes a small cut in the eardrum and suctions out any fluid within the middle ear, and then inserts the grommet so that the flanges of the grommet sit on each side of the eardrum.

The grommet therefore now acts as an air vent.

The grommets will eventually fall out of the eardrum into the wax of the ear canal on their own. In general, it is hoped that this occurs approximately a year after their insertion. This period of time allows the child’s eustachian tube time to work.


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