Ear tubes: Formally known as tympanostomy tubes, ear tubes are small plastic tubes inserted into the eardrum (the tympanum) to keep the middle ear aerated for a prolonged period of time. To put the tubes in place, a myringotomy (a surgically placed tiny incision in the eardrum) is done. Any fluid, usually thickened secretions, will be removed. The ear tubes usually remain in place for 6 months to several years. Water should not be allowed to enter the ear canal while the tubes are in place. Eventually, they will move out of the eardrum (extrude) and fall into the ear canal. The doctor may remove the tube during a routine future office visit or it may simply fall out of the ear without the child realizing it.