The origin of a surgical incision in the tympanic membrane dates back to the 19th century when Sir Astley Cooper first presented myringotomy as a new method of treatment for deafness.
Today, myringotomy with aspiration of middle ear contents remains a safe and simple routine procedure in the Otolaryngologist's armamentarium.
Myringotomies may be are performed for either diagnostic or therapeutic indications. It is a simple and useful procedure to determine if fluid is present within the middle ear or to aspirate fluid from the middle ear.
Occasionally a myringotomy may be used to establish drainage of the purulent contents of the middle ear in an advanced case of acute suppurative otitis media.
The anteroinferior quadrant of the tympanic membrane is the safest location for a myringotomy incision, since there is little risk of damaging the ossicular chain in this area.
Unfortunately, most myringotomy incisions usually heal within 1 week, and if the middle ear mucosa and the Eustachian tube have not returned to normal within this time, then the effusion is likely to recur.