When and how to do a myringotomy – a practical guide

Lynette K Cole, Tim Nuttall

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


A myringotomy is a surgical incision made in the tympanic membrane (TM). This gives access to the middle ear for sampling, flushing and instilling topical therapy. It should be considered whenever the TM is intact and there is clinical evidence of otitis media, abnormal TMs and/or abnormal diagnostic imaging. Samples should be collected for cytology and culture, and then the external ear should be cleaned and dried (if required). Myringotomies should be performed under general anesthesia and, wherever possible, using a video otoscope; the enhanced view and instrument ports facilitate the technique and reduce the risk of complications. The myringotomy incision should be made in the caudo-ventral quadrant of the TM using an appropriately sized urinary catheter to collect samples and flush the middle ear cavity. A thorough understanding of the anatomy, technique and potential ototoxicity of topical therapy is needed to minimize the risk of neurological and other complications. The TM usually heals within 35 days if kept free of infection.
Original languageEnglish
JournalVeterinary Dermatology
Early online date6 May 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 May 2021


  • Otitis media
  • primary secretory otitis media
  • PSOM
  • middle ear polyp
  • myringotomy
  • ear flush
  • video otoscopy


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