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What is a grommet?

A grommet (Ventilation Tube) is a small tube which is inserted after a small cut (Myringotomy) is made in the eardrum. Grommets allow the air to pass from the ear canal into the middle ear and helps to equalize the pressure on each side of the eardrum. They usually stay in for 6 to 12 months.

How long will it take?

The operation takes about 20 - 30 minutes. This includes the anaesthetic, the operation and the time spent in the recovery room. Your child will be required to stay in the Day Unit for approximately 2 hours following surgery.

When can my child eat and drink again?

If your child is awake on return to the Day Unit, clear fluids may be offered immediately (Breast fed babies can have a feed). A light diet will be offered when fully awake.

Care at home

Pain relief

  • Have some paracetamol at home. It can be given as per the instructions on the product packaging for the first 3 to 5 days after the operation to relieve discomfort.
  • Give other pain relief medicine if advised.
  • Do not give asprin.

Diet and fluids

Your child may eat and drink when feeling well.

Ear care

It is important to keep the ears dry while the grommets are in. Blu-Tac or ear plugs (available from the Pharmacy) should be used whenever your child is having a bath or hair wash. Blu-Tac should be rubbed between the fingers to soften it before use.


No swimming is allowed for 3 weeks or as advised. After 3 weeks, Blu-Tac or ear plugs should be used with a bathing cap.

Points to remember

  • Oozing from the ears is common and may last 2 to 3 days.
  • Ears must be kept dry.
  • Do not insert foreign bodies e.g. cotton buds into the ear.
  • No swimming for 3 weeks. After this, swimming is allowed only if Blu-Tac or ear plugs and bathing cap are used.
  • Patients may return to school the following day.
  • Take child to your GP or go to your closest hospital that treats children if there is persistent earache, continuous ooze from the ear or high fevers.

Follow up visit

An appointment date will either be given to you when your child is discharged or posted out to you.

Emergency contact

To ensure your child receives the best possible care in an emergency, you should call 000 or go to your closest hospital that treats children.

If you have any concerns or questions please contact your doctor.

Contact Mater Children’s Private Brisbane

Salmon Building, level 5 and 7

Raymond Terrace,

South Brisbane QLD 4101

Telephone: 07 3163 8111



Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-470017
Last modified 03/4/2019.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 23/4/2015
For further translated health information, you can visit healthtranslations.vic.gov.au/ supported by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services that offers a range of patient information in multiple languages.
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