What is a grommet?

A grommet is a small plastic cylinder, which sits in the ear drum and allows the passage of air from the external environment through to the space behind the ear drum. Sometimes they may be made from a type of metal called titanium.

Why do I need a grommet?

A grommet is usually offered as a treatment option if it is considered that the tube which connects the back of the ear to the back of the nose (the Eustachian Tube) is not working properly and as a result, the ear drum is affected. Often this may lead to a build up of fluid behind the ear drum (middle ear effusion) or the ear drum may be pulled in (retraction). The affect of this may be a reduction in your hearing or some ear discomfort.

How is a grommet inserted?

A grommet is inserted whilst using a microscope to visualize the eardrum. Once the ear-drum has been identified, then a small incision is made in the eardrum, any fluid from behind the ear drum is removed and the grommet is carefully placed in to the incision site. This can be done under a local anaesthetic (with you awake) or a general anaesthetic (with you asleep) and usually takes no more than five minutes.

What are the risks of a grommet insertion?

Complications from grommet surgery are low and often simple to treat. These include bleeding, infection and a perforation of the ear-drum. Infections are often treated with antibiotic ear-drops. Perforations following grommet insertion happen in around one in a hundred patients. If this happens, then you may need a tympanoplasty to repair it.

What should I do after surgery?

After your grommet insertion, you should aim to keep your ear dry for around two weeks. If all is well at this stage, and you’ve not experienced an infection, then you should be able to continue as normal, including swimming. Some patients find that pool water can trigger an infection. If this is the case, then the use of ear plugs and head bands can be used to allow you to swim safely.