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Eardrum repair

 

Definition

Eardrum repair, called tympanoplasty, is a procedure to correct a tear in the eardrum (tympanic membrane). Ossiculoplasty is the repair of the small bones in the middle ear.

Alternative Names

Tympanoplasty; Ossiculoplasty; Ossicular reconstruction

Description

Using general anesthesia, an ear-nose-throat (ENT) specialist grafts a small patch from a vein or fascia (muscle sheath) onto the eardrum to repair the tear.

For problems with the small bones (ossicles), the surgeon will use an operating microscope to view and repair this chain of small bones using plastic artificial bones or ossicles from a donor.

Why the Procedure Is Performed

A number of problems can permanently damage your eardrum (tympanic membrane) or harm the very small bones (ossicles) that are right behind the eardrum. These problems include chronic ear infections, trauma, cancer, and cholesteatoma.

This damage may cause hearing loss, pain, or an infection that does not go away.

If antibiotics or other treatments do not heal chronic ear infections, then surgical eardrum repair may be necessary.

Risks

Risks for any surgery are:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Problems breathing
  • Reactions to medications

Additional risks include:

  • Complete less of hearing
  • Damage to the facial nerve or nerve controlling the sense of taste
  • Damage to the small bones in the middle ear, causing hearing loss
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Incomplete healing of the hole in the eardrum
Before the Procedure

Always tell your doctor or nurse:

  • What allergies you may have to any medications, latex, tape, or skin cleanser
  • What drugs you are taking, including herbs, herbs, and vitamins you bought without a prescription

On the day of the surgery:

  • Take only a small sip of water with any drugs your doctor has prescribed
  • Tell your doctor if you have signs of illness or infection
  • You will usually be asked not to drink or eat anything after midnight the night before surgery
  • Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital
After the Procedure
Patients usually leave the hospital the same day as the surgery. It is important to avoid water in the ear. There are sometimes stitches behind the ear for the first week and packing material in the ear. Your health care provider may recommend the use of a hair cap when showering for a few weeks after the procedure.
Outlook (Prognosis)

In most cases, the operation relieves pain and infection symptoms completely. Hearing loss is minor. The outcome may not be as good if the bones in the middle ear need reconstruction along with the eardrum.

References

Javia LR, Ruckenstein, MJ. Ossiculoplasty. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2006;39(6):1177-1189.

El-Kashlan HK, Harker LA. Tympanoplasty and ossiculoplasty. In: Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, Robbins KT, Thomas JR, eds. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2005: chap 136.


Review Date: 3/3/2009
Reviewed By: James L. Demetroulakos, MD, FACS, Department of Otolaryngology, North Shore Medical Center, Salem, MA. Clinical Instructor in Otology and Laryngology, Harvard Medical School. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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