Ear tubes—plastic or metal?

Many of my pediatric patients with chronic otitis media have had tubes inserted in their ears. Their parents are usually unaware of the type of tube placed. According to my limited research, a variety of forms are available (e.g., titanium, silicone, plastic-coated, antibiotic-coated, etc.). How do I determine with absolute certainty which tubes are plastic and which are metal prior to MRI?
—LORI BRAENOVICH, RN, MSN, FNP-BC, Charleston, W.Va.

With more than 50 different types of tubes available, it is difficult to determine exactly what type was placed. However, use of metal tubes has declined in popularity, so the prevalence of those should be very low. Visualization is the best way to identify if a tube is metal or not. This may require cerumen removal but should put your mind at ease.
—Julee B. Waldrop, MS, PNP
(123-1)

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