Grommet insertion is the commonest surgery in kids. They are inserted for glue ear (fluid in the ear causing hearing loss) that fails to resolve after a 3 month window of observation. They are also inserted for recurrent ear infections, which is one of the commonest infections in younger kids. They prevent the fluid from reaccumulating in the middle ear. They typically stay in for about a year and come out spontaneously. 30% of kids need a second set of grommets. An adenoidectomy is typically performed with a second set of grommets to prevent the need for a third set of grommets. The surgery is typically performed as a day case, and there is usually little or no pain. The main post operative risks are discharge (20% kids have discharge at some stage, though usually settles with topical antibiotic drops), and persistent perforation (3% cases), which may require further surgery.
Glue ear is the commonest cause of hearing loss in kids and may lead to speech delay. In Mr Harneys experience, it is rare for a child to have a hearing loss and not try to turn up the volume of the TV/iPad. Other causes for hearing loss (eg genetic hearing loss) must be identified earlier and treated with hearing aids to minimise the risk of long term speech and hearing difficulties.