Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.
Your Location is set to Change My Location
Cone Health wants to help you get well and stay well. This section provides tools and information to achieve good health and maintain your well-being.
Learn what community resources are available to help you get well and stay well.
View health and wellness news you can use from Cone Health providers on
View Advanced Search OptionsView All Doctors
View All Locations
Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Tympanocentesis for Ear Infections
Tympanocentesis is the removal of fluid from behind the eardrum. The doctor uses a special needle with a tube attached to collect the sample of fluid. A culture and sensitivity test is usually done on the sample of fluid.
Before the test, your child may get medicine to help him or her relax. Or a doctor or nurse may apply medicine directly to the eardrum to numb the area. If there is a lot of earwax, it is removed from the ear before the test begins.
The child is held very still while the fluid is removed. You may be asked to help with holding your child still.
In most cases, the eardrum heals within 3 to 5 days after the procedure.
This procedure is not often done. It is sometimes done:
In most cases, doing a culture and sensitivity test on fluid collected by tympanocentesis can identify the bacteria causing the infection. This helps the doctor prescribe an antibiotic that is more likely to work. Sometimes no bacteria are found in the fluid.
The child has to stay very still during the procedure.
Ask your doctor if your child needs to take extra care to keep water from getting in the ears when bathing or swimming. Your child may need to wear earplugs. Check with your doctor to find out what he or she recommends.
Tympanocentesis does not prevent repeated ear infections (recurrent otitis media).
Current as of: October 21, 2018
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Susan C. Kim, MD - PediatricsKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineJohn Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics
Current as of:
October 21, 2018
Medical Review:Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2019 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Subscribe to our Wellness Matters e-newsletter, a monthly snapshot of the some of great wellness content from Cone Health providers.