Using this guide What's covered

Here you’ll find the answers to many of your questions about the insertion of grommets. Learn how it works, what it may cost, what your recovery may be like, and more.

To see how it’s done view our animation below. For personal insights, see our patient experience videos in which HCF members talk frankly about their preparation, procedure and recovery.

Cost indicator

Discover the typical out-of-pocket costs HCF members can expect to pay for insertion of grommets, and learn how your choice of doctor and hospital affect that cost.


See costs

Learn about the procedure

This short animation explains how the ear works and why grommets may be needed. It also shows how an incision is made in the eardrum (known as myringotomy), so grommets can be inserted.

The basics

What are grommets?

Grommets are tiny plastic ventilation tubes that are rimmed at the end. They’re inserted into the eardrum to equalise pressure in the ear.

Why is it done?

The middle ear is normally air-filled and is typically at the same pressure as the outer ear, on the other side of the ear drum, because air pressure is equalised via a small ventilation tube called the Eustachian Tube. When this tube is blocked or not working properly, patients can get problems with their eardrum or fluid can accumulate in the middle ear. Glue ear (thick fluid trapped in the middle ear) or recurrent middle ear infections are the most common reasons that grommets are inserted. Children are most often affected, but adults can be too.

Because grommets allow air in from the outside, enabling fluid and mucus to drain normally, they improve hearing immediately and help to prevent repeated ear infections.

Glue ear 

Glue ear is a chronic ear condition, common in young children, in which thick mucus collects within the middle ear. Because the middle ear is normally filled with air instead of fluid, hearing is often affected.

Where is it done?

As a day patient in either a day surgery or hospital.

How long does it take?

Usually around 10-15 minutes.

Who's involved?

  • Your ear, nose and throat surgeon
  • Anaesthetist 
  • Nurses 

The details


Treatments to consider before opting for grommets

Non-surgical options that may delay the need for grommets.
Learn more

Results vs risks of the procedure

The benefits and potential complications of grommets.
Learn more

Choosing a specialist

How to find a surgeon who specialises in your procedure.
Learn more


Questions for the surgeon and anaesthetist

What you should be asking before going ahead with the procedure.
Learn more

Preparing for the procedure

Pre-operative tests and how to prepare your child for grommet insertion. 
Learn more

Anaesthetic options

The type of anaesthetic you may be offered.
Learn more


Going to hospital

What to expect on the day of the procedure.
Learn more

Your procedure

What happens in the operating theatre.
Learn more



After the procedure

Pain relief and more.
Learn more


Precautions following grommet insertion.
Learn more

Patient experiences

HCF members who've had grommets talk about their preparation, procedure and recovery.
View videos

Coping with hearing impairment

Children with a hearing impairment talk about how they deal with it at school and in their everyday lives.

View videos

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Important information

Information is provided by HCF in good faith for the convenience of members. It is not an endorsement or recommendation of any form of treatment nor is it a substitute for medical advice, and you should rely on the advice of your treating doctors in relation to all matters concerning your health. Every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, however HCF takes no responsibility for any injury, loss, damage or other consequences of the use of this information.