Caring for Your Child after a Mastoidectomy
What to Expect after Surgery
You can expect your child to have a big
dressing over his ear and head. You can
expect an incision behind or above the ear.
It is common for your child to have
headache pain. It is also common to have
ear numbness that may last for months.
Your child may feel some pain or
discomfort, so give him the pain medicine as
advised. There may be mild, blood-stained
drainage from his ear. He may have packing
inside his ear canal. He may have some
taste changes for a short time. Your child
may or may not have stitches that will be
removed in 7-12 days. A low-grade fever is
normal, up to 102° regardless of the method
used to take a temperature, for up to 7 days
What to Do
ξ For the next 3 days, raise your
child’s head at least 30º when he lies
down. Do not let him lie flat in bed
(use at least 2 pillows to raise his
head 30º). It's best not to lie on the
side of the treated ear until allowed
by the doctor.
ξ Your child should avoid heavy
activity for 4 weeks or for how long
your doctor advises. No jogging,
aerobics, or lifting greater than 25
pounds during that time.
ξ Your child must keep water out of
his ear until advised by your doctor.
This may be from 1 to 3 months.
Use a cotton ball with lots of
Vaseline ointment to seal ear when
showering. No swimming or putting
his head under the bath water.
ξ Your child may have drainage from
the ear for several weeks. You may
put a cotton ball in the outer ear to
catch the drainage. Change the
cotton ball as needed. Remove the
cotton ball before using any
prescribed ear drops, but do not
remove the packing.
ξ If your child has packing inside his
ear canal, do not remove it. He may
hear noises such as cracking or
popping – this is normal.
ξ Do not allow your child to blow his
nose for 1 week. After 1 week, if he
must blow his nose, do it gently one
side at a time to avoid pressure on
ξ Your child should sneeze or cough
only with his mouth open for one
ξ Check the incision for any signs of
infection. Watch for redness,
swelling, tenderness, warmth at site,
or any pus-like drainage.
ξ The incision behind his ear can be
exposed to water after two days.
ξ Check with your doctor regarding air
travel. Most often, it will be about 6
weeks before your child will be able
to travel by air.
ξ Do not allow your child to drive (if
old enough) while taking any pain
When to Call the Doctor
ξ Bleeding that soaks a gauze dressing
in 10 minutes or less for one hour
ξ Pain that is not relieved by medicine
ξ Any signs of infection
ξ Sudden dizziness
ξ If packing comes of out of the ear
ξ Significant changes in hearing
ξ Weakness of the face (facial droop)
ξ A fever over 102° regardless of the
method used to take temperature
Pediatric Otolaryngology (ENT) Clinic, at
(608) 265-7760, Monday-Friday from 8:30
a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
After clinic hours, weekends, and holidays,
the number above will give you the paging
operator. Ask for the ENT doctor on-call.
Leave your name and phone number with
the area code. The doctor will call you back.
If outside Madison, call 1-800-323-8942.
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#5423.