Caring for Your Child After Tympanoplasty
What is a tympanoplasty? This involves
many types of surgery that may be done on
the eardrum or the space behind the
eardrum. It most often involves the
placement of a tissue patch to help close a
hole in the eardrum. Damage to the ear may
have been due to congenital problems,
infection, trauma, or other disease.
What to Expect
1. Your child may feel some pain. For
relief, use pain medicine as ordered.
2. There may be blood-stained drainage
from your child’s ear for up to 2 weeks.
3. Your child may have a small incision
behind, in front of, or above the ear.
4. Your child may have a gauze dressing
over his ear. Your child’s doctor will
tell you when it may be removed. After
the dressing is off, your child can wear a
cotton ball in his ear as long as drainage
continues. This may be changed as
needed. Once the ear is no longer
draining, stop using the cotton ball.
5. Your child may have packing in his ear
that will need to be removed by the
doctor. The doctor will tell you this
6. Your child may complain of decreased
hearing in the surgical ear for up to
several weeks after surgery. As packing
material dissolves, he may complain of
a “popping” sensation or fluctuation of
7. Your child may feel dizzy for about a
week or so.
8. Some taste changes are common.
9. Because the jaw is close to the ear, your
child may have soreness or stiffness in
jaw movement. This will go away.
10. Restless, disturbed sleep or nightmares
may occur for a couple of weeks after
you go home.
What to Do
1. For the next 48 hours, raise your child’s
head at least 30º when she lies down.
You may use at least 2 pillows to
achieve the 30º. Your child should not
lie on the side of the treated ear.
2. Your child should avoid quick head
3. Avoid heavy activity for 4 weeks or for
the time your doctor advises. No sports,
swimming, or lifting greater than 25
pounds during this time.
4. If your child has an incision behind the
ear, it can get wet after two days, but
water must be kept out of the ear until
advised by your doctor. When
showering, use a Vaseline® covered
cotton ball to keep your child’s ear
canal dry. Clean any incision as advised
by your doctor.
5. Your child should not blow his nose for
1 week. After 1 week, if your child
must blow his nose, do it gently one
side at a time to avoid pressure in the
6. Your child should sneeze and cough
with his mouth open for 1 week to
avoid high pressure in the ears.
7. Check with your doctor about air travel.
It can be about 4 – 6 weeks before your
child will be able to fly.
8. Do not allow your child to drive (if old
enough) while taking any pain
When to Call
ξ If your child has excessive bleeding
(bleeding that soaks gauze dressing in 10
minutes or less for one hour).
ξ A fever over 102° regardless of the
method used to take temperature
ξ If there is sudden dizziness.
ξ If there is a large change in hearing.
ξ If there is any swelling, increased
redness, increased pain, or drainage from
Your child will be scheduled to return to the
ENT clinic in 4 weeks to see your doctor,
perhaps sooner if packing removal is
necessary. Your child will have a repeat
hearing test sometime in the future. The
doctor will talk with you about your child’s
progress and answer any questions you may
UW Health Pediatric Otolaryngology (ENT)
Clinic at (608) 265-7760 Monday through
Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 pm.
After clinic hours, weekends or holidays,
call (608) 262-0486. Ask for the ENT
doctor on call. Leave your name and phone
number with the area code. The doctor will
return your call.
If outside Madison, call toll free at
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 10/2017. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5421.