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Children who are not helped by medicine may need surgery. It may be done when a child has repeat infections and problems such as pain, hearing loss, and fluid buildup. Surgery can also help with hearing, which can help lower the risk of delayed speech development.


During myringotomy , a small cut is made in the eardrum and fluid (blood, pus, and/or water) is removed from the middle ear. The fluid is often tested to find out which antibiotics will work best to kill the bacteria causing the infection. A small tube may also be put in place in the middle ear to help keep the hole open and balance air pressure. This surgery is common in children, but may be done on adults as well.


Adenoidectomy is surgery to remove large adenoids. These are tonsil-like structures in the back of the nose. It is not done to treat infections, but it may lower the risk when it is done for other reasons, such as to treat snoring and sleep apnea.


Acute otitis media (AOM) in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed May 17, 2022.

Ear infections in children. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website. Available at: Accessed May 17, 2022.

Middle ear infections. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: Accessed May 17, 2022.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kuenn, MD
  • Review Date: 11/2021
  • Update Date: 05/17/2022