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Grommet insertion


Grommets can be fitted into your child’s ear to help with glue ear. Glue ear can happen when the eustachian tube (which runs from the middle ear to the back of your throat) becomes blocked and air cannot enter your middle ear. This causes the cells linking the tube to produce fluid, which can block your child's middle ear. Usually glue ear will clear up, but if the symptoms continue then your child may need to have grommets inserted.

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What are grommets?

Grommets are small tubes made from plastic that are inserted into your eardrum. It involves a short operation (called myringotomy) under general anaesthesia. This means your child will be asleep during the procedure. Grommets work by allowing air to enter and circulate in your child's middle ear so that no fluid builds up.

An illustration of a grommet and inner ear

How can my child prepare for grommet surgery?

You can choose the consultant and hospital most convenient for your child by entering your treatment into our ‘Consultant finder’.

Your child's surgeon will explain how to prepare and what will happen during the grommet operation.

What happens during grommet insertion surgery?

The grommet operation usually takes place as a day-case procedure so your child can often go home on the same day. Your child's ENT (ear, nose and throat) surgeon will make a small opening in his or her eardrum and remove the fluid from the ear. The surgeon will then place a grommet into the opening of your child's eardrum. The procedure will take around 15 minutes in a dedicated ear, nose and throat unit.

Are there any complications and risks?

As with every producdure, there are complications associated with grommet insertion. Speak to your child's surgeon for more information.

There is a small risk that the hole does not close after the grommet has fallen out and your child will need another operation to close it. For some people glue ear does not go away after using ear grommets and your child may need another set inserted.

Recovering from your child's surgery

Your child will usually have the grommets in his or her ear until the eardrum has healed and the grommets have naturally fallen out after about six months and a year.

Your child should be able to get back to normal the day after the grommet operation and within a few weeks he or she will be able to start swimming. Your child can fly in a plane with grommets.

After about nine to twelve months, your child will need to have a hearing test to check that his or her hearing has got better. 

What to do now

Once you have decided that you would like your child to be treated at an HCA hospital, or would like further information, here's what to do next:

  1. Call one of our advisors on +44 (0) 20 7079 4399 or complete our web enquiry form.
  2. Check with your insurance company that your policy covers your treatment, and obtain authorisation.
  3. Visit or call your GP to obtain a referral letter and then call us to make an appointment to visit your chosen consultant and hospital at a time to suit you.
  4. If you are paying for treatment yourself, click here for a guide for Insertion of Grommets.


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