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Insertion of grommets fact sheet

Insertion of grommets

Grommets are usually inserted to treat ‘glue ear’ (fluid in the middle ear) or prevent recurrent otitis media (middle ear infection). A grommet is a small ventilation tube inserted into the eardrum to allow air into the middle ear and prevent a build-up of fluid.

Insertion of grommetThe operation

During the operation, a surgeon will make a small cut in the eardrum and the fluid in the middle ear will be sucked out. The grommet is then inserted. Your child will be in the Operating Room Suites for about 30 to 45 minutes. This includes the anaesthetic, the operation and time spent in the recovery room. Your child should be well enough to go home within two hours of the operation.

After the operation

If the ear is particularly inflamed, you may notice bleeding from the ear on the day of the operation or for some fluid discharge to continue for a day after the operation. This is not unusual. Simply clean the outside of the ear as required but never insert anything into the ear canal.

Pain relief

Your child may experience a mild earache in the first few weeks after the operation. It is important to provide regular pain relief during their recovery. Nursing staff will discuss suitable medications for your child before you go home. Medication such as paracetamol (Panadol©, Dymadon©) should relieve your child’s pain. Follow directions on the label to ensure your child is given the correct dose for their age/weight.

Aspirin must NOT to be given to your child.

If there is persistent pain or problems, contact your GP or the Queensland Children’s Hospital.

Food and drink

Aneasthetic can sometimes leave a child feeling nauseous and with no appetite. When your child feels hungry, he/ she can eat something light (a sandwich). Most children resume their usual diets the next day.

If your child experiences nausea or vomiting at home, stop food and fluids for one hour. They should then sip clear fluid and eat a small amount of dry food such as plain toast or a biscuit.

Bathing/hair washing

After the operation, it is important to keep water out of the ears to prevent infection. Ear plugs, ear putty, swimming caps and ear wraps can be used to keep water out of ears.


The most common complication is infection, which can be signified by a discharge from the ear. If this occurs, contact your GP or the Emergency Department of your nearest hospital immediately.

Post-operative check-up

Your child will have a post-operative check-up six to eight weeks after the operation. If you have any concerns prior to the appointment, contact us.

  • Grommets will usually fall out of the eardrum in 6 to 12 months

Contact us

Ear, Nose and Throat Outpatients Department
Level 3a, Queensland Children’s Hospital
501 Stanley Street, South Brisbane

Clinical nurse
t: 07 3068 2563 (8am – 5pm, M-F)

Clinical nurse consultant
t: 07 3068 1889 (7am – 3.30pm, M-F)

Day surgery (4c)
t: 07 3068 3430 (24 hours, M-Sat)

Hospital switchboard
t: 07 3068 1111 (24 hours, 7 days)

In an emergency, always call 000.

If it’s not an emergency but you have any concerns, contact 13 Health (13 43 2584). Qualified staff will give you advice on who to talk to and how quickly you should do it. You can phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Resource No: FS004. Developed by Ear, Nose and Throat Outpatients Department. Updated: February 2015. All information contained in this sheet has been supplied by qualified professionals as a guideline for care only. Seek medical advice, as appropriate, for concerns regarding your child’s health.