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HF 5421

Caring for Your Child After Tympanoplasty

Tympanoplasty is surgery performed on the eardrum or the space behind the eardrum. It may involve placing a tissue patch to help close a hole in the eardrum. This surgery may be fixing damage to the ear caused by a birth defect, infection, trauma, or other disease.

What to Expect

  • There may be blood-stained drainage from your child’s ear for up to 2 weeks.

  • There may be a small incision behind, in front of, or above the ear.

  • A gauze dressing may cover the ear. You will be told when it may be removed.

  • They may have packing in their ear. This will need to be removed by the doctor. The doctor will tell you this after surgery.

  • Your child may have decreased hearing several weeks.

  • As packing material dissolves, they may complain of a “popping” feeling or fluctuation of hearing.

  • They may feel dizzy for about a week .

  • Some taste changes are common.

  • Your child may have soreness or stiffness in the jaw. This will go away.

  • Restless sleep or nightmares may occur for a couple of weeks.


Your child may have some pain. Use any pain medicine as ordered.

Incision Care

  • Keep the incision behind the ear dry for two days. After two days, clean the incision as advised.

  • Water must be kept out of the ear until advised by your doctor. When showering, use a Vaseline® covered cotton ball to keep the ear canal dry.

  • After the dressing is off, use a cotton ball in their ear as long as drainage continues. Change it as needed. Once the ear is no longer draining, stop using the cotton ball.


  • Do not let your child lay flat in bed for the next 48 hours. Use at least 2 pillows to raise their head 30º. Your child should not lay on the treated side until your doctor approves.

  • They should avoid quick head movements.

  • No sports, jogging, swimming, aerobics, heavy exercise or lifting over 25 pounds for 4 weeks.

  • No blowing the nose for 1 week. After 1 week, your child can gently blow it one side at a time to avoid pressure on the ears.

  • Your child should keep their mouth open when sneezing or coughing for one week.

  • No air travel for 4-6 weeks until approved by your doctor.

  • No driving (if old enough) while taking any pain medicine.

Follow up Visit

Your child will have a follow up visit in 4 weeks. If packing needs to be removed, it may be sooner.

Your child will have a hearing test and exam about 3 months after surgery. The doctor will talk with you about your child’s progress and answer any questions.

When to Call

  • Bleeding that soaks gauze dressing in 10 minutes or less

  • A fever over 102°

  • Sudden dizziness

  • Big change in hearing

  • Signs of infection
    o swelling
    o increased redness
    o increased pain
    o pus-like drainage

Who to Call

UW Health Pediatric Otolaryngology (ENT) Clinic

Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm

(608) 263-6420, option 3

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.

The toll-free number is 1-800-323-8942.