Ear, Nose & Throat: Ear Surgery

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Ear Surgery

Your ear has three bones known as ossicles: the malleus, incus and stapes. Ear surgery may be for functional or cosmetic reasons. If you need ear surgery, you’ll see an ear, nose and throat doctor (aka an otolaryngologist). In some cases, ear surgery may be performed by a plastic surgeon.

Ear Surgery for Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be caused by many things, including ear infections, prolonged exposure to loud noises, head injuries and genetic factors. Typically, the surgeon performs a myringotomy and tympanostomy tube placement. To do that, they cut the eardrum and insert a tube to remove that fluid from that area.

People with severe hearing loss may get cochlear implant surgery. The ear surgeon will implant a device that stimulates your auditory nerve.

Other Common Ear Surgeries

  • Otoplasty. A cosmetic procedure that reshapes the ears. People often get otoplasty to correct protruding ears.
  • Repairing a hole in the eardrum. This procedure repairs a tympanic membrane perforation. It’s called a tympanoplasty or myringoplasty, and involves patching the eardrum. In some cases, your ear, nose and throat doctor can even do it in their office. 
  • Ossicular chain reconstruction. If you have a problem with the ear bones in your middle ear, you may need this type of ear surgery. The surgeon will essentially recreate your ear bones with prostheses.

Ear Surgery in Children

It’s not uncommon for children to undergo ear surgery. They may undergo one of the surgeries above, or:

  • Ear tube placement. If kids have recurrent ear infections, their pediatrician may refer them to an ear, nose and throat doctor. That’s because these ear infections could lead to hearing loss down the road. The ENT will place small tubes in the ear drums to drain fluid.
  • Canalplasty. Some kids have narrow ear canals, which require surgical widening.
  • Microtia repair. Children who are born without ears or with underdeveloped ones might see a physician for ear reconstruction.
  • Tonsillectomy. If the tonsils become enlarged, kids can be prone to recurrent ear infections or breathing difficulties. The otolaryngologist will remove the tonsils.

Risks of Ear Surgery

Many ear surgeries are low-risk. But like with any procedure, ear surgery comes with the risk of complications. Some risks associated with ear surgery include bleeding, infection, scarring, pain and facial weakness. You can increase your odds of having a successful outcome by following all pre- and post-operative instructions. And, by contacting your physician or otolaryngologist if you notice complications following ear surgery.

If you’d like more information about ear surgery, talk to your physician or otolaryngologist.

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