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Dr. Alan Greene on PE Tubes


My son has had his PE tubes for three years. I recently read that leaving the tubes in for more than two years may result in scarring or damage to the eardrum. Can you give me any additional information?


The average length for most types of PE tubes to stay in is about nine months, but they sometimes stay there a good bit longer.

Generally, the tubes should be allowed to fall out on their own. If they don't, they may have to be removed. The typical time to do this is when kids are 6 years old because taking them out is done under general anesthesia and you want to delay it as long as possible, to be sure they won't fall out on their own.

About 15 percent of kids who have tubes in for several years will have a small hole left that takes a while to close on its own. About 1 or 2 percent will have a hole that doesn't close. Some of them need a simple surgery to close it.

The scarring that people talk about is cosmetic and inside the ear. It doesn't generally affect hearing at all.


The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.