Are Ear Tubes Always the Best Approach?

My son Josh had PE tubes placed at 5.5 months. He had never had an ear infection at the time but the tubes were inserted during surgery because his ABR showed a 45 decibel loss (mild-moderate reverse slope conductive loss) in both ears. It was believed at the time to simply be fluid behind his ears and before any scans of the ears were done, he had the ear tubes placed. The tubes didn’t increase his hearing capabilities. In fact, when he was two, we switched ENTs and our new ENT told us that the left tube had never actually made it into his eardrum. Because Josh has abnormally small ear canals, the smallest, metal grommets were used and the right grommet left a permanent perforation in Josh’s eardrum that was fixed at age 2.5 with a tympanoplasty.

If I could go back and do it all again, I would request an MRI or CT scan BEFORE the tubes were placed. Perhaps then we would have avoided the tubes–at least it was a possibility. Now, we are being told that Josh has fluid in the middle ear again, diagnosed by a CT. He is on a lengthy course of antibiotics, but if that doesn’t clear the fluid, tubes will be recommended again. I am loathe to have another go at tubes. I will very seriously weigh this decision this time. To that end, here is a NY Times article I found discussing the necessity and utility of PE tubes:

Are Ear Tubes Always the Best Approach?

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