What is a grommet?

I have had a lot of people ask me “so what exactly is a grommet and what does it do?”. Small Boy is due to have a small procedure, under general anaesthetic, next week, to insert grommets into both of his ears. The correct term for the procedure is Myringotomy  and insertion of grommets. It is a very short, usually uncomplicated procedure, and he will hopefully be home within a few hours of the operation. Whilst I am not looking forward to him having to have a general anaesthetic, the risks are very low, and after a long stretch (over two years) we feel that this is the right choice of treatment for his glue ear. Most children recover from glue ear without surgery, but some do need the intervention, and our Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon thinks that Small Boy will benefit from the procedure.

This website, has some good illustrations and explanation of what the inner ear looks like and where the grommet would be placed and how it works.

Below is a picture of what the grommet will look like in Small Boy’s ear, when it has been inserted.


Grommets are tiny, less than half a centimetre, in size. I remember when I worked in ENT, we used to do many grommet insertion procedures, and they were very fiddly to get  correctly positioned to hand to the surgeon, so he could place them correctly. There are several types of grommets, but this one, is the one the surgeon who is treating Small Boy, prefers to use. It is a Shah grommet.


(Image sources)

The coin is a 5pence piece, so you can see how small the grommet is. The grommet is inserted into an opening in the ear drum, after any fluid or mucous (the glue, hence why the condition is called “glue ear”) is drained, and then it stays in place, and drains any fluid, and eases pressure on the ears, relieving pain and discomfort and hopefully preventing further ear infections. It will fall out, and hopefully Small Boy wont need the procedure repeating, but we are taking this road, one step at a time!

So, there you go, a very basic explanation of what a grommet it, and what will be happening next week.

The websites I sourced the information from are:



Posted in Health and tagged anaesthetic, ENT, Glue Ear, grommets, Myringotomy, Shah Grommet.


  1. Grommets are great! Emma had glue ear and had grommets put in when she was three (she had been coughing at night for about a year – and kept waking herself up.) As soon as she had the grommets in she stopped coughing and started sleeping – it was fantastic and really made a huge difference straight away. Hopefully it will make a big difference in Matthew’s nights too! (and the procedure was much more traumatic for me that her…she was absolutely fine! :)) Will be thinking of you next week! xx

  2. Thank you. I think the bit that worries me most is not allowing him to eat pre op. He is a grumpy little monster with no food in him! 🙂 We are pretty confident that this is the best option, and have heard so many positive stories of kids who have done well afterwards! 🙂

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