Ear Lavage or ear irrigation is normally done to help with the removal of earwax that often obstructs the ear canal or in order to remove some foreign object that might be lodged in the canal of the ear. Ear lavage is most commonly done on individuals who have a history of wax building up and has impaired the hearing as well as irritated the other canal of the ear. Ear lavage is done in the emergency department as it is considered a first-line treatment for a foreign object in the canal of the ear. Ear lavage is less invasive than the use of an instrument. If the object is for instance an insect that is still alive, oil needs to be first inserted in the ear in order to kill the insect; after which the ear canal is lavaged in order to remove this dead insect. Often foreign objects might be removed from the ear using lavage alone, but most need a combination of both irrigation and the use of instruments by the physician.
The canal of the ear needs to be examined with an otoscope prior to ear lavage. Ear lavage is contraindicated if there is a ruptured eardrum since the procedure could force bacteria thru the rupture in the inner ear. Ear lavage is also not advised in those with ear pain or fever as these may be an indication of an inner ear infection.