A grommet is a tiny plastic tube which is placed into the ear drum to let air into the middle ear. This keeps the ear healthy and clears fluid from the middle ear (glue ear). A grommet is about the size of this O on the page.

The grommets are placed in the eardrum under a short general anaesthetic. The operation is all done down the ear canal and there are no cuts around the ear. A small opening is made in the ear drum, the fluid in the middle is sucked out, and the grommet put into the opening. The grommet stops the small opening from closing over and keeps the middle ear ventilated. The operation only takes 10-20 minutes.

On the ward:

A doctor will visit you and your child on the ward.  This visit gives you an opportunity to ask any questions regarding the procedure and for the doctor to obtain your written consent for the operation.

Following the operation:

Talk quietly to your child as the changes in volumes of their surroundings can be frightening.

Your child may experience a mild earache.  Any mild pain relief medication such as Paracetamol will be enough to deal with this.

A little bleeding or discharge from the ears can be expected. Wipe gently around the outer ear lobe – DO NOT push cotton wool down the ears.


On the day of the operation a light supper is advisable.  Your child can eat normally the following day.


Plenty of rest for 24 hours.

Washing hair/swimming:

It is essential to keep the ear passages dry following the operation. Use cotton wool covered in Vaseline to protect from water but DO NOT push into the ear canal.

Washing hair by using a shower or tipping the head back over a basin is advised.

Keep the ears dry for a couple of weeks after the operation whilst the eardrum is healing. The hole in the grommet is very small and water will not normally pass through it with simple wetting or surface swimming.

NO diving or swimming underwater until after the follow up appointment.


If a grommet is in place and is working your child should not have any pain with flying as the pressures equalize immediately.

Follow up appointment:

Usually in about six weeks with audiology. The appointment will be sent to you by post by the ENT secretary at Yeovil Hospital (01935 384210)

How long do grommets stay in?

The grommets moves to the edge of the ear drum as the ear drum grows. It moves slowly up the ear canal, often mixed with normal earwax. You will probably not notice when the grommet comes out. The time the grommet comes out is variable. About 50% would be out within a year of the operation, 980% within 2 years and 95% or more within 3 years. If the grommets have not come out after 3 years your child should be referred back to the ENT department. We would plan a day case operation to have the grommets removed.

ANY Medical concerns:

Please contact your GP or Dorchester Hospital ENT secretaries:

Mr Chatzimichalis – 01305 253167

Mr Lale – 01305 255510

Ref: 10/21/145
Review: 10/23