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    Javed, Faisal Whitwell, Russell Hajioff, Daniel Robinson, Philip Rea, David Macleod, Iain White, Paul and Nunez, Desmond A. 2015. A pilot randomized controlled trial comparing bismuth iodine paraffin paste external ear pack and no ear pack after middle ear surgery. European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, Vol. 272, Issue. 3, p. 543.

    Rai, Anil K. Singh, Gautam Bir Sahu, Radhamadhab Singh, Sarvejeet and Arora, Rubeena 2014. Evaluation of simultaneous bilateral same day tympanoplasty type I in chronic suppurative otitis media. Auris Nasus Larynx, Vol. 41, Issue. 2, p. 148.

    Shen, Yi Mei Teh, Bing Friedland, Peter L. Eikelboom, Robert Henry and Atlas, Marcus David 2011. To pack or not to pack? A contemporary review of middle ear packing agents. The Laryngoscope, Vol. 121, Issue. 5, p. 1040.

    Balough, B.J. 2009. Ear packing after ear surgery: is it really necessary?. Yearbook of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Vol. 2009, p. 173.

    Borgstein, Johannes Stoop, Esther Halim, Angela and Feenstra, Louw 2008. The extraordinary healing properties of the pediatric tympanic membrane: A study of atelectasis in the pediatric ear. International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, Vol. 72, Issue. 12, p. 1789.


Ear packing after ear surgery: is it really necessary?

  • J Borgstein (a1), G de Zwart (a1) (a2) and I A Bruce (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 12 October 2007

We question the need for packing of the ear canal after ear surgery. For several years, it had not been the first author's standard practice to use post-operative ear packing. During this period, few problems or complications had been encountered.


Tertiary referral, academic, paediatric hospital.

Materials and methods:

A retrospective review of all children who had undergone major ear surgery in our unit over the last year was carried out. These cases represented a full range of otological procedures. Post-operative complications and infections in the first six post-operative weeks were recorded.


A total of 135 ears were operated upon in 107 patients ranging in age from 11 months to 19 years (mean 9.5 years). During this time period, eight children (7.5 per cent) developed a post-operative ear infection. No cases of tympanic or meatal granulations, problems with the tympanomeatal flap, or meatal stenosis were encountered. All infections were successfully managed with topical antibiotics.


We conclude that packing after ear surgery may be safely abandoned. This would not only save valuable operating time, but would also obviate the need for pack removal, always a source of discomfort and anxiety. This is especially important in children, who may subsequently require a further general anaesthesia in order to remove the pack.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Dr Johannes Borgstein, Sophia Children's Hospital, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Dr Molewaterplein 60 (Sp1417), 3015 GJ Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Fax: +31 10 463 6472 E-mail:
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2V Nakhla , YM Takwoingi , A Sinha . Myringoplasty: a comparison of bismuth iodoform paraffin paste gauze pack and tri-adcortyl ointment ear dressing. J Laryngol Otol 2007;121:329–32

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  • EISSN: 1748-5460
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