Skip to content

Health & Pregnancy

Ear Tubes Should Stay in No More Than Four Years

Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD

-->

May 13, 2002 -- Plenty of kids get ventilation tubes put in their ears to prevent chronic ear infections, or otitis media. A new study shows that up to age 7 -- the period when kids are at highest risk for infections -- they can safely have tubes for two to four years.

In fact, if tubes are removed too early, they may have to be reinserted, says lead author Mohamed A. El-Bitar, MD, a pediatric otolaryngologist at Children's National Medical Center and the George Washington University in Washington.

He presents his study this week at the annual meeting of the American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngologists.

In the study, El-Bitar and colleagues reviewed charts of 67 boys and girls under age 7, and 59 age 7 and older, who had ventilation tubes.

In the younger group, 13% had some drainage from the ear and more than two-thirds needed to have their ear drum patched (which was successful in more than 90%), after tube removal. But almost 12% of kids in this group had to have the tubes reinserted due to recurrent ear infections.

In the older group, only 2% needed to have the tubes reinserted to treat additional infections, but almost 25% had some ongoing drainage after the tubes were removed and 83% needed to have the eardrum patched (which was successful only in about two-thirds of them).

Regardless of the patient's age, there was a significant increase in the risk of complications after the tube was in for four years.

Kids under age 7 are more prone to recurrent ear infections than older kids, says El-Bitar. Therefore, removing tubes before then will expose the child to more infections -- and possible need for tube reinsertion.

However, tubes should be removed once a child reaches age 7 to prevent complications, El-Bitar adds.

Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

hand circling date on calendar
Track your most fertile days.
woman looking at ultrasound
Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
 
Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
The signs to watch out for.
pregnant woman in hospital
Are there ways to do it naturally?
 
slideshow fetal development
Slideshow
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
Article
 
What Causes Bipolar
Video
Woman trying on dress in store
Slideshow
 
pregnant woman
Article
Close up on eyes of baby breastfeeding
Video
 
healthtool pregnancy calendar
Tool
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy
Video