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Tympanoplasty

(Middle Ear Repair)

Pronounced: tim-PAN-oh-plas-tee
En Español (Spanish Version)

Definition | Reasons for Procedure | Possible Complications | What to Expect | Call Your Doctor

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

The procedure can also help to:

Possible Complications

Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a tympanoplasty, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • 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

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, like:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Blood thinners
  • Anti-platelet medications

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

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.

1-2 hours

Anesthesia prevents pain during the procedure.

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 four weeks. Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions .

Call Your Doctor

After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • 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 you cannot control with the medications you have been given
  • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
  • Any new symptoms

In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES:

American Academy of Otolaryngology

http://www.entnet.org

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

http://www.nidcd.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Society of Otolaryngology

http://www.entcanada.org

References:

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/B_EXTRANET_HEALTH_INFORMATION-FlexMember-Show_Public_HFFY_1117547740636.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/CHP/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 July 2013 by Kari Kassir, MD; Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.