Ear Surgery

Surgical Terms

Myringoplasty This refers to the repair of a hole in the ear-drum. The degree of difficulty depends on where the perforation is, but usually you can go home the same day.
Tympanoplasty In this operation, the small bones of hearing are reconstructed as well as the ear-drum being repaired and reinforced. You may experience dizziness after this procedure, but usually it is short-lived.
Tympanotomy This means that the surgeon wants to look inside your ear to see if hearing can be improved. A special form of this is a Stapedectomy.
Exostectomy This refers to drilling out the bony swellings that grow in the ear canal from years of swimming in cold water. These can block the ear canal and cause water and wax entrapment and recurrent ear canal infections.
Mastoidectomy This is a bigger operation in which the bone behind the ear is drilled away to make the ear safe. It can be done in several ways and the options will be discussed with you by your surgeon. This is usually for a condition called Cholesteatoma.
Incisions The operation can be done through the ear canal directly (transcanal), using an incision in front of the ear canal (endaural) or from behind the ear (post-aural).
Anaesthetic Sometimes local anaesthetic (LA) can be used, but the bigger operations are usually done under general anaesthetic (GA). Often you will be able to go home the same day, but an overnight stay will be needed in some circumstances, especially if there is any dizziness.

Post Operative Care:

  • Usually there is mild pain and discomfort. Mild painkillers like Paracetamol or Panadeine are sufficient. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as Voltaren can be helpful.
  • Dizziness and tinnitus are common immediately after the surgery and settle down over the following days.
  • A metallic or cardboard like taste may be experienced that settles over the following weeks.
  • The incisions around the ear is closed with deep stitches, which absorb and usually do not require removal.
  • The ear is blocked with packing after the operation, so there will be decreased hearing and often a crackling sensation, especially on eating. Sometimes the packing is iodine based so looks yellow and infected but of course it isn’t. Any allergy to iodine should be reported. The packing is removed in the clinic after 1-2 weeks.
  • There may be a bandage on your head when you wake up after the operation but this is generally removed before you go home, and a light dressing applied to the ear.
  • The ear must be kept dry until healing is complete – your Surgeon will tell you when you can get the ear wet ie with hair washing or swimming.
  • Care with nose blowing and sneezing is important for the first 2-3 weeks after surgey.
  • Antibiotics should be taken as prescribed – seek medical advice if a smelly discharge develops, or if there is increasing pain.
  • Avoid strenuous activity for 3 weeks.
  • Full recovery of hearing takes time (up to 6 weeks), may require the ear to be cleaned using suction to remove debris and crusts, and in some cases long-term care will be needed.

Complications of Ear Surgery

  • The most common would be failure of grafting of the ear-drum (10-20%) but usually the procedure can be repeated without too much risk to the ear.Infection can occur and cause failure of the graft, and rarely this can cause permanent loss of hearing.
  • Serious complications include permanent damage to the inner ear often accompanied by vertigo or dizziness which lasts for a variable period of time and damage to the facial nerve which may be temporary from the local anaesthetic injected into the ear at the time of surgery. Rarely a permanent facial weakness can occur which may require surgical rehabilitation..
  • Any disturbance of taste which may occur normally improves with time, and numbness at the top of the ear may last several weeks.
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