What is the role of irrigation in the removal of ear foreign bodies?

Updated: May 08, 2018
  • Author: Angela On-Kee Kwong, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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To irrigate, first attach a 20-ga angiocatheter to a 60-mL syringe. Warming the irrigation fluid (water or normal saline) greatly enhances patient comfort. Position the patient comfortably and drape the area to keep the patient dry. Position an emesis basin under the affected ear to collect irrigation runoff. Place the flexible angiocatheter tip gently in the external auditory canal. Advancing the tip too far risks damage to the tympanic membrane. With the angiocatheter tip held gently in position, slowly inject irrigation fluid until the foreign body washes out. Always conduct a postprocedural ear examination to confirm complete removal of the foreign body and to check for complications. See video below.

Irrigation method.

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