(Middle Ear Repair)
Tympanoplasty is a surgery done to repair the eardrum and middle ear bones. The eardrum and bones are necessary to hear.
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Types of tympanoplasty include:
- Myringoplasty—repair of a tear in the eardrum
- Tympanoplasty with ossiculoplasty—repair of a tear in the eardrum and correction of a defect in the bones of the middle ear
- Tympanoplasty with mastoidectomy—repair of a tear in the eardrum and eradication of bony infection in the area behind the ear
Reasons for Procedure
The procedure can also help to:
- Restore hearing and treat certain types of deafness
- Prevent middle ear infections that occur through a chronic perforation
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
- Failure to restore hearing
Damage to structures in or near the middle ear:
- Nerves—resulting in loss or distortion of taste or paralysis of the face
- Middle ear bones—resulting in loss of hearing that may be permanent or require further surgery
- Inner ear structures—resulting in lightheadedness
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Before surgery, your doctor will check to be sure that you do not have an ear infection.
You will have several tests, including an ear exam and a hearing test. In certain cases, a CT scan is also done.
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure.
General anesthesia is used. You will be asleep through the procedure.
Description of the Procedure
A small incision will be made behind the ear. Some tissue will be extracted from this area. This tissue will then be attached to the eardrum to cover the hole. Other materials may be added to hold the graft in place. If the bones of the middle ear need to be repaired, then this is done as well.
A small pack may be left in position in the ear canal. The incision behind the ear will be closed with stitches.
How Long Will It Take?
Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
You will need reduce activities, especially those that cause strain like lifting. You may need to avoid flying and exposing the ear to water. Follow your doctor's instructions on how to wash your hair once you are at home. Complete recovery takes about 4 weeks.
Call Your Doctor
It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Increasing fluid or foul-smelling fluid draining from the ear
- Redness, swelling, increased pain, bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
- Pain that cannot be controlled with the medications you were given
- New or unexpected symptoms
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Academy of Otolaryngology —Head and Neck Surgery
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
Tympanoplasty. Northwest ENT Associates website. Available at: http://www.nwentassociates.org/Tympanoplasty.asp. Accessed July 23, 2013.
Tympanoplasty. UW Health website. Available at: http://www.uwhealth.org/healthfacts/ear/4919.html. Updated January 24, 2013. Accessed July 23, 2013.
Tympanoplasty/paper patch myringoplasty. Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh website. Available at: http://www.chp.edu/our-services/ent/patient-procedures/tympanoplasty. Accessed July 23, 2013.
Tympanoplasty: Repair of ear drum perforations. Ear Institute of Chicago website. Available at: http://www.chicagoear.com/Ear%20Surgery/tympanoplasty.html. Accessed July 23, 2013.
Last reviewed May 2018 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 5/23/2014