Instructions Are First Of Its Kind For Ear Tube Procedure

NEW YORK (WLNY) — Ear tube surgery is the most common operation for children in the United States and for the first time, there are new guidelines to help doctors decide who should undergo the procedure.

The new parameters help doctors decide who should or should not get the tubes, CBS 2’s Katie McGee reported. About 670,000 children have the surgery each year.

It helped 3-year-old Leah Saacks, who used to suffer from painful monthly ear infections just a year ago.

“The ear infections cause a lot of fluid in her ears and this pressure would wake her up at night,” said Leah’s mother, Dinah Saacks.

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Leah’s hearing and speech were also affected, and that’s when her pediatrician recommended inserting ear tubes to keep her ear drum open and prevent fluid buildup and infection.

Her symptoms matched up with some of the new guidelines that doctors are now using to determine which children will benefit from ear tube surgery.

“Fluid for three months or longer in both ears with some hearing difficulties, those are really good kids to get ear tubes,” said Dr. Richard Rosenfeld, of SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

The guidelines suggest the insertion of the ear tube, which is only about the size of a grain of rice, should not be performed in children with recurrent ear infections who do not have fluid behind the ear.

One of the biggest benefits from ear tubes, aside from pain relief, is speech.  Hearing problems can delay normal speech development and slow learning.

Dr. Rosenfeld said the tubes fall out naturally after about a year or two.

For Leah, the surgery has truly helped her quality of life. Her hearing is better than ever and her speech has improved dramatically.

“Its changed my daughter’s life in such a positive way,” said Dinah.

Leah has not had a single ear infection since her surgery last year.

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