Tympanoplasty

(Middle Ear Repair)

Pronounced: tim-PAN-oh-plas-tee

Definition

Tympanoplasty is a surgery done to repair the eardrum and middle ear bones. The eardrum and bones are necessary to hear.

The Middle Ear

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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    TOP

The procedure can also help to:

  • Restore hearing and treat certain types of deafness
  • Prevent middle ear infections that occur through a chronic perforation

Possible Complications    TOP

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

  • Infection
  • 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    TOP

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.

Anesthesia

The procedure often only requires local anesthesia. Your ear and the area around it will be numb.

Description of the Procedure    TOP

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?    TOP

1-2 hours

Will It Hurt?    TOP

Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.

Postprocedure Care    TOP

To insure proper healing, avoid the following:

  • Blowing your nose hard
  • Sneezing
  • Exposing your ear to water—Ask your doctor how to wash your hair and shower for the first few weeks after surgery.
  • Flying
  • Swimming or diving
  • Heavy weight lifting and straining

It will take several weeks after surgery to determine if the tympanoplasty was a success. Complete recovery takes about 4 weeks.

Call Your Doctor    TOP

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
  • Lightheadedness
  • Pain that cannot be controlled with the medications you've been given
  • New or worsening symptoms

If you think you an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES:

American Academy of Otolaryngology —Head and Neck Surgery
http://www.entnet.org
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
http://www.nidcd.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Society of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
http://www.entcanada.org

References:

Tympanoplasty. Northwest ENT Associates website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed July 23, 2013.
Tympanoplasty. UW Health website. Available at:
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Updated January 24, 2013. Accessed July 23, 2013.
Tympanoplasty/paper patch myringoplasty. Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed July 23, 2013.
Tympanoplasty: Repair of ear drum perforations. Ear Institute of Chicago website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed July 23, 2013.
Last reviewed June 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 5/23/2014

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