Grommet Insertion (Child)

This page will provide you with information about grommet insertion. For further details, please speak to your consultant.

What is glue ear?
Glue ear is a common problem among children, where fluid gathers behind the eardrum in the middle ear (see Figure 1). Symptoms of this condition include recurring earache, loss of hearing or infection resulting in discharge from the ear.

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A metal or plastic tube (grommet) can be inserted into the ear to enable air to enter the middle ear and stop fluid from gathering there.

What are the alternatives to surgery?
In the majority of cases, glue ear will improve on its own. However, an operation is the best option if your child has had glue ear for several months or more and the condition is causing problems such as:

Trouble hearing

Recurring infections

Slow school progress

Trouble with speech development

Behavioural problems

What will happen during the operation?
A grommet insertion will take approximately 20 minutes and will be performed under general anaesthetic. During the procedure, a doctor will make a minor hole in your child’s eardrum. Using suction, they will remove any excess fluid (myringotomy) in the hole before inserting a plastic or metal grommet.

Risks and complications
Any risks or complications will be discussed in advance of your treatment with your expert consultant.

Most children are able to return home the same day as their operation, and return to their normal activities within 1-2 days. Swimming must be avoided until your child has fully recovered from the procedure.

The grommet will fall out of your child’s ear naturally. How long it will take to fall out depends on its size and design, but it will generally be between 6 and 18 months.

Glue ear can improve on its own without the need for surgical intervention. However, if your child has been suffering from symptoms for three months or more, and if the condition is affecting their schooling or speech development, a grommet insertion can provide a more effective solution.


EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

Grommet Insertion (Child) Consultants