You'll find hundreds of files on cleft lip, cleft palate here on widesmiles.org.

This one is about: Why the need for Ear Tubes


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QUESTION:

Just wondering - Folks have been mentioning kids having ear tubes, and sometimes having the tubes fall out... Obviously these tubes are artificial. My question is, are these tubes a permanent thing, or is there a surgical procedure done later on to eliminate the need for artificial ones?

ANSWER:

The myringotomy tubes are small plastic tubes or grommetts (depending on which kind you get) that are inserted into a tiny incision in the ear drum. The tube then allows the pressure/fluids to escape the middle part of the ear. These are not meant to be permanent. They naturally fall out - generally in a few months (but my kids managed to hang onto theirs for years! That's why my kids had so few pairs.)

For cleft-affected kids, the Eustachian (naturally occurring tubes that lead from the middle part of the ear to the oral cavity) tubes are compromised. So it is not uncommon for fluid and pressure to build up.  This can lead to ear infections, temporary hearing loss, and possibly permanent hearing loss, as well as great pain. In a worst case scenario, it can lead to encephalitis (the infection has to go somewhere - if it doesn't go out, it will go in.)

So, the tubes are inserted under general anesthesia in a 15-minute surgery and the kid goes home the same day and bounces back in a matter of hours. Or, most often, the tube surgery is piggy-backed onto another surgery (lip 
repair/palate repair, etc) so that the child does not have to experience anesthesia too often.  Eventually most kids outgrow their need for tubes by about age 6 - 10 or so.  Each child is different.

Joanne Green - Wide Smiles


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