For some ear problems, using a microscope to magnify the view of the ear drum helps the surgeon with diagnosis. The microscope is mounted on an arm that is attached to the wall. There is a very bright light. The motor to drive the machine makes a low humming sound. Examination with the microscope may be done with the patient sitting up or reclining. The examination is painless and takes 5 minutes.

Ear toileting means to clear the ear canal and middle ear of any fluid, wax or foreign material. This is often combined with a microscope examination. Ear toileting can be used for:

  • wax impaction.
  • otitis externa (infection in the skin of the ear canal).
  • middle ear infection with discharge from a perforation or grommet.
  • removal of foreign objects, like beads in children.

The ear can be cleaned by:

  • wiping with miniature cotton tips,
  • sweeping with wax rings, hooks or curettes,
  • using miniature forceps (like tweezers),
  • suction.

A suction machine is like a miniature vacuum cleaner. Some patients prefer wiping or curetting and others prefer suctioning. At times wiping can be very tender particularly if the ear is infected. Suctioning can be very loud and is quicker with less tenderness than wiping. People who have had ear surgery in the past, particularly mastoidectomy, can have vertigo for a few minutes during suctioning.

Examination with the microscope and aural toileting can take as little as 5 minutes or as long as 30 minutes depending on the problem. You will need to lie still and breathe normally. This treatment is suitable for children and adults. You will be able to drive home or return to work immediately after the procedure.