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Myringoplasty (child)

3-minute read

What is a myringoplasty?

A myringoplasty is an operation to repair a hole in the eardrum.

A perforation is usually caused by an infection in the middle ear that bursts through the eardrum. It can also be caused by trauma (for example, being hit across your ear or by placing an object in your ear).

Often a perforated eardrum does not cause any problems but it can lead to repeated ear infections and poorer hearing.

What are the benefits of surgery?

Your child should have less risk of repeated ear infections and their hearing may improve.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

Illustration showing the position of the eardrum.
The position of the eardrum.

Keeping your child's ear dry by placing cotton wool and Vaseline in the ear when bathing or washing their hair may prevent infection.

An infection can be treated with antibiotics and a trained healthcare practitioner can clean the ear.

A hearing aid can improve poor hearing but can also lead to more infections.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes an hour to 90 minutes.

Your surgeon will need to use a graft (piece of tissue) to cover the hole. This will not change the shape of your child's ear.

Your surgeon will place the graft through a cut made either in front of or behind the ear, or inside the ear canal. They will usually lift the eardrum, place the graft underneath and support it with a dissolving sponge. They will put the eardrum back.

What can I do to prepare my child for the operation?

Your child should try to maintain a healthy weight. They will have a higher risk of developing complications if they are overweight.

What complications can happen?

Some complications can be serious and can even cause death.

General complications of any operation

  • bleeding
  • infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • allergic reaction to the equipment, materials or medication

Specific complications of this operation

  • failure of the graft
  • numbness of the ear
  • loss of hearing
  • tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
  • change of taste
  • allergic reaction

Consequences of this procedure

  • pain
  • unsightly scarring of the skin

How soon will my child recover?

They should be able to go home that day.

Your child should be able to return to school after about 2 weeks.

Protect the ear from water using cotton wool and Vaseline, and do not let your child swim until your surgeon has told you that the graft has worked.

Most people make a good recovery. Your child will need to come back after 2 to 3 weeks to have the pack removed and to check the graft.

Summary

A perforated eardrum is a common problem. A myringoplasty can prevent infections and sometimes improve your child's hearing.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

The operation and treatment information on this page is published under license by Healthdirect Australia from EIDO Healthcare Australia and is protected by copyright laws. Other than for your personal, non-commercial use, you may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you. Medical Illustration Copyright © Medical-Artist.com.

For more on how this information was prepared, click here.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2023


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