Middle ear surgery

Specialty of Otolaryngology / ENT

What is middle ear surgery?

Middle ear surgery is a series of surgical interventions to treat problems in the tympanic membrane, in the chain of tiny interconnected bones (the hammer, anvil and stirrup) and in the mastoid cells (cavities of the temporal bone). There are two major surgical procedures: tympanoplasty and mastoidectomy. Tympanoplasty involves ossiculoplasty (repairing the bones) and myringoplasty (closing a hole in the eardrum).

Why is middle ear surgery performed?

These interventions are recommended for treating middle ear problems. Tympanoplasty is recommended for large eardrum perforations or middle ear infections such as acute or chronic otitis media that cannot be cured with antibiotics.

Mastoidectomy is an operation to remove the flat air cavities of the skull behind the ear (temporal bone) in order to treat infections of the mastoid portion in that part of the skull, to treat complications of otitis media, abnormal bone growth, cholesteatoma (skin cell cyst in the middle ear), or to place cochlear implants.

What does middle ear surgery involve?

The middle ear is accessed through a cut behind the ear or through the ear canal so that the appropriate procedures can be performed, depending on the injury presented by the person. The procedure may involve removing any infection or dead tissue in the eardrum, placing a graft to reconstruct the tympanic membrane, or placing a prosthesis to replace a damaged bone.

Preparing for middle ear surgery:

Before the operation, the otorhinolaryngologist will check to make sure you don’t have an ear infection. This will require several tests, including an ear examination and a hearing test. In some cases, a CT scan of the head may also be needed.

You must also consult your doctor about medication you can or cannot take. For example, you may need to stop taking certain drugs such as aspirin, anti-inflammatories or blood thinners a week prior to surgery.

Post-surgery care:

To ensure proper recovery after middle ear surgery, you should avoid:

  • Sneezing too hard, or holding in a sneeze
  • Being hit by a jet of water, so you should ask the specialist how to shower and wash your hair
  • Flying
  • Swimming or diving
  • Lifting weights and excess tension

You will have to wait a few weeks after the operation to know whether it has been successful or not. Full recovery will take approximately four weeks if the post-operative care guidelines have been followed according to the specialist’s recommendations.

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