Types of Ear & Hearing Surgery
Surgery on the ears, for both adults and pediatric, can be considered and successfully performed to resolve issues with hearing, balance, infection and to improve speech. Below is a list of common ear and hearing procedures.
Patients with otosclerosis and significant hearing loss are candidates for a stapedectomy. During a stapedectomy, an incision is made in the skin of the ear canal, the skin and eardrum are lifted to expose the stapes bone, and the stapes bone is removed. Through an incision above the ear, tissue is removed to be used to cover the opening created by the stapes bone removal. A prosthesis is placed where the stapes bone had been and the eardrum laid back in place.
The tympanic membrane, or ear drum, is made of tissue similar to thin skin. Perforations of the ear drum occur by infection or some type of trauma, such as a puncture by a cotton-tipped applicator, or a slap injury. Most heal spontaneously in much the same way a cut on an arm would heal. When a perforation persists, the middle ear is unprotected from the environment and vulnerable to infection. When a perforation is present, the ear canal must be kept dry. Repair of a perforation restores the protective barrier to the middle ear, and can improve hearing.
Placing tubes in the ears has become one of the most commonly performed operations in the United States. A tiny tube, with a collar on both ends, is slipped through a tiny incision in the eardrum. This pressure-equalization (PE) tube provides a temporary alternate avenue for equalization of pressure in the middle ear and to allow bacteria and fluid to drain out. This procedure is of great benefit to nearly all children and some adults who suffer from recurring ear infections, fluid retention or poor Eustachian tube function.
What to Look For And Benefits
Not everyone with otosclerosis needs this surgery. Sometimes the hearing loss is not bad enough to require surgery. Sometimes people choose a hearing aid to help their hearing instead of surgery. In some cases the surgery may be done to allow better use of a hearing aid. Some indications of otosclerosis may be:
- Gradual hearing loss
- Cannot hear low-pitched sounds or whispers
- Balance problems
- Sensation of ringing, roaring, buzzing, or hissing (tinnitus)
The most obvious symptom of a perforated eardrum is that hearing will be affected. The extent of hearing loss will depend on the size of the hole. As well as hearing loss, you may also notice the following symptoms:
- Recurrent discharge of mucus from the ear
- Ear infections – the tympanic membrane acts as a barrier to bacteria, so when it is compromised it can increase the chances of infection
The Benefits of Ear Tubes
Each year, more than half a million ear tube surgeries are performed on children, making it the most common childhood surgery performed with anesthesia. The average age for ear tube insertion is one to three years old. Inserting ear tubes may:
- Reduce the risk of future ear infection
- Restore hearing loss caused by middle ear fluid
- Improve speech problems and balance problems
- Improve behavior and sleep problems caused by chronic ear infections
- Help children do their best in school
Contact us for an assessment to see if you or your child may benefit from ear surgery to improve hearing and overall quality of life.