A healthy pediatric male patient with a history of otitis media (ear infections) and tympanostomy tubes is seen for a well-child check-up. He has no particular complaints. An image of the right ear reveals this finding.
Ear tubes are placed in children who have recurrent otitis media (ear infections). The purpose of the ear tubes, sometimes called ventilation tubes, is to equalize the pressure between the outer ear and the middle ear. The tubes also drain fluid from the middle ear. The eustachian tube is usually responsible for drainage and equalizing pressure, but its function can be compromised in case of infection. The tubes are inserted in the eardrum by making a small incision. There are collars on both sides of the tube that hold it in place for about a year. The tubes eventually fall out as shown in this image. The eardrum heals although there is often evidence in the eardrum of their prior placement.