Grommet Insertion (child) | Ramsay Health Care

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Grommet Insertion (child)

This webpage will give you information about a grommet insertion. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.

What is glue ear?

Glue ear is a common condition where fluid collects in the middle ear behind the eardrum (see figure 1). It can cause deafness, recurrent earache or a discharge from the ear.


Blocking of the eustachian tube causes glue ear

Figure 1: Blocking of the eustachian tube causes glue ear


What are the benefits of surgery?

A grommet (small plastic or metal tube) allows air to enter the middle ear, preventing fluid build up.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

The condition will almost always get better by itself.

Surgery is recommended if the glue ear continues for longer than three months and is causing problems with poor hearing, slow speech development, repeated ear infections, slow school progress or behavioural problems.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes about twenty minutes.

 Your surgeon will make a small hole in the eardrum and remove the fluid by suction. They will then place a plastic or metal grommet in the hole.

What complications can happen?

1 General complications of any operation

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots

2 Specific complications

  • Fluid leaking from the ear
  • Ear discharge
  • Small hole left in the ear drum after the grommet falls out
  • Repeated build-up of fluid in the middle ear

How soon will my child recover?

Your child should be able to go home the same day.

Other than swimming, your child should be able to return to normal activities after 24 hours.

The grommet will fall out of your child’s ear by itself, after nine to twelve months for the plastic type and after about two years for the metal type.


Glue ear is a common condition that usually gets better without any surgery. Surgery is recommended when the condition lasts longer than three months and the hearing loss is causing problems with speech or schooling.


Author: Miss Ruth Capper MD FRCS (ORL-HNS)

Illustrations: LifeART image copyright 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. All rights reserved

This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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