All ears

When your child needs ear tubes

One-year-old Kendahl Corrigan was struggling with ear infections. He had them in both ears for three months, and no antibiotics seemed to work. The Corrigan family had experienced the same issue several years earlier with their daughter, Kinlee. The answer for both children was ear tubes.

“I was a little nervous with Kinlee because getting tubes means being sedated and going into the hospital at an early age,” said mom Kara Corrigan. “After the surgery, though, she became more verbal immediately.”

“Kendahl, who had tubes placed in November, started saying more words and stopped falling over – something he had been doing.”

“More than 90 percent of children will have at least one ear infection,” said Jeffrey C. Nau, M.D., otolaryngologist. “When ear infections become a chronic problem and a child has fluid in the middle ear, hearing loss and balance issues can result. Referral to an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist) will help determine if tubes can be beneficial.”

Inserting ear tubes is a relatively simple surgery and the most common pediatric surgery performed with anesthesia. A child may receive a sedative at the hospital before being taken to the outpatient operating room. Once under general anesthesia, the otolaryngologist makes a small incision in the eardrum and inserts the tube, a small cylinder. The procedure takes about 15 minutes. Parents are often given a prescription for antibiotic ear drops.

“Tubes usually stay in for approximately one year,” Dr. Nau said. “By the time a child is 2 years old, the angle of the eustachian tube, which helps drain fluid from the ear, has changed. Many times replacement tubes are not needed.

Children may have repeated ear infections and still not need tubes. It is important to talk to your pediatrician about the pros and cons of the procedure as it relates to your child.”

“Getting tubes is the best choice I’ve made for both of my children,” Kara said. “Ongoing infections are uncomfortable for both child and parent. For us, the surgery was a walk in the park thanks to Norton Children’s Hospital and Norton Children’s Medical Center – Brownsboro.”

Getting ear tubes
Pediatric outpatient surgery, including the insertion of ear tubes, is now being performed at Norton Suburban Hospital, future home of Norton Women’s Hospital and Norton Children’s Hospital – St. Matthews. In addition, Norton Children’s Hospital in downtown Louisville and Norton Children’s Medical Center – Brownsboro in eastern Louisville continue to offer pediatric outpatient surgical services. To find an otolaryngologist who can help your child, visit


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