A tympanostomy tube (also known as a grommet) is a small tube inserted into the eardrum to keep the middle ear aerated for an extended period of time – preventing accumulation of mucus in the middle ear. Inserting the tube involves a procedure called a myringotomy. Materials used to construct the tube are most often plastics such as silicone or Teflon.
The myringotomy procedure with tube insertion can be generally be performed under local anesthesia with older, more co-operative patients. Younger patients, who are the more common recipients, may require a brief general anesthesia. The insertion of tympanostomy tubes is one of the most common surgical procedures performed on children.
Tympanostomy tubes generally remain in the eardrum for two years to five years, before spontaneously falling out of the eardrum. The eardrum usually (but not always) closes without a residual hole at the tube site.