What is canalplasty?

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Canalplasty in children: Overview

Canalplasty makes the ear canal wider. A doctor may do this surgery for children who have a very narrow ear canal. It may also prevent external ear infections and a buildup of earwax in the ear canal.

Your child will be asleep during the surgery. Children can usually go home 2 to 4 hours after surgery. They may have ear pain for up to 2 weeks later. Your child will probably be able to go back to school or day care in 1 or 2 days.

Depending on why the surgery was done, your child's hearing may improve after the surgery. But your child may still need a hearing aid if they were already using one.

How can you care for your child after canalplasty?


  • Have your child spend the rest of the day in bed. When your child is ready, your child can begin playing again.
  • Your child will probably be able to go back to school or day care 1 or 2 days after surgery.
  • For about 7 days, keep your child away from crowds or people that you know have a cold or the flu. This can help keep your child from getting an infection.
  • Keep the ear covered during baths to keep water from getting in it for as long as your doctor recommends.


  • Have your child drink plenty of fluids for the first 24 hours to avoid becoming dehydrated. Offer clear fluids, such as water, apple juice, and flavored ice pops.


  • Your doctor will tell you if and when your child can restart any medicines. The doctor will also give you instructions about your child taking any new medicines.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask the doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, be sure your child takes them as directed. Your child should not stop taking them just because they feel better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • If your child gets medicine for dizziness, be sure your child takes the medicine as directed.

How do you prepare for your child's canalplasty?

Surgery can be stressful for both your child and you. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your child's surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Talk to your child about the surgery. Tell your child that the surgery is done to improve hearing. Hospitals know how to take care of children. The staff will do all they can to make it easier for your child.
  • Ask if a special tour of the surgery area and hospital is available. This may make your child feel less nervous about what happens.
  • Plan for your child's recovery time. Your child may need more of your time right after the surgery, both for care and for comfort.
  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell the doctors ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies your child takes. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia. Your doctor will tell you which medicines your child should take or stop before surgery.

The day before surgery

  • A nurse may call you (or you may need to call the hospital). This is to confirm the time and date of your child's surgery and answer any questions.
  • Remember to follow your doctor's instructions about your child taking or stopping medicines before surgery. This includes over-the-counter medicines.

After your child's canalplasty: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.
  • Your child has pain that does not get better after taking pain medicines.
  • Your child bleeds through the bandage.
  • Your child has new or worse vomiting.
  • Your child cannot keep down fluids.

Watch closely for any changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child has drainage from the ear.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

After your child's canalplasty: Overview

Canalplasty makes the ear canal wider.

Your child may have some ear pain for a few days after surgery. Your child also may feel dizzy for several hours after surgery. This is common.

Your child will feel tired for a day. But your child should be able to go back to school or day care in 1 or 2 days.

What happens on the day of your child's canalplasty?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when your child should stop eating and drinking. If you don't, the surgery may be canceled. If the doctor told you to have your child take any medicines on the day of surgery, have your child take them with only a sip of water.
  • Have your child take a bath or shower before you come in. Do not apply lotion or deodorant.
  • Your child may brush their teeth. But tell your child not to swallow any toothpaste or water.
  • Do not let your child wear contact lenses. Bring your child's glasses or contact lens case.
  • Be sure your child has something that's a reminder of home. A special stuffed animal, toy, or blanket may be comforting. For an older child, it might be a book or music.

At the hospital or surgery center

  • A parent or legal guardian must accompany your child.
  • Your child will be kept comfortable and safe by the anesthesia provider. Your child will be asleep during the surgery.
  • The surgery will probably take about 90 minutes.
  • After surgery, your child will be taken to the recovery room. As your child wakes up, the recovery room staff will monitor your child's condition. The doctor will talk to you about the surgery.
  • You may be able to take your child home 2 to 4 hours after the surgery.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.