Ear Surgery

Procedures and Treatments

Ear tubes

Ear tubes are inserted into the eardrum to drain fluid from the middle ear and provide ventilation of the middle ear. Chronic or recurrent middle ear infections and persistent fluid in the middle ear are the most common reasons for ear tubes. Eustachian tube dysfunction or blockage is common in young children. Adults may also have problems with eustachian tube malfunction after flying or following upper respiratory infections. Allergies and sinus infections may contribute to ear infections since the eustachian tube is downstream from the nose and sinuses.

Children have ear tubes inserted in the operating room under a brief inhalation anesthetic (no IV required). Recovery is rapid and your child is back home before you know it. After a period of 12-16 months the eardrum heals and pushes the ear tube out. In rare cases the tubes need to be removed if they stay in too long. Long term follow up care is important to be sure the tubes have come out and the ear drum has healed without recurrent middle ear fluid. Some children may require a second set of tubes later. In that situation, the adenoids may need to be removed and allergy evaluation should be considered.

Adults may require ear tubes as well and nearly all the time this can be done in the office under a topical anesthetic. The procedure is short and you may return to work or resume daily activities after leaving the office. Some adults with lifelong ear infections and who have had several sets of ear tubes may benefit from a long term ventilation tube that is surgically implanted. This is done in the operating room under general anesthetic.

Tympanoplasty

The eardrum may become damaged due to do eustachian tube dysfunction, frequent ear infections or trauma. Symptoms can include hearing loss, ear fullness, drainage or dizziness. The eardrum may retract into the middle ear and cause erosion of the little bones located behind the eardrum. Tympanoplasty is an operation to repair the eardrum. It is performed in the operating room under general anesthetic. Often your own tissue is used to repair the defect.

Mastoidectomy

The mastoid bone is part of the skull that contains the middle and inner ear structures. It is similar in construction to a beehive with mucous membrane-lined air cells surrounded by bone. Long standing ear infections and eustachian tube dysfunction can damage the mastoid and these air cells have to be removed. Mastoidectomy is often combined with tympanoplasty and so tympanomastoidectomy is done in the operating room under general anesthesia.

Ear Wax Removal

Ear wax, also known as cerumen, is produced in the outer part of the ear canal. Small glands in the skin are responsible for its production. Ear wax protects the skin from dryness and infections. It naturally comes out or falls out of the ear canal. Q-tips should not be used to remove it as this will push the wax deep inside resulting in fullness, hearing loss, pain or itching. Cerumen is easily and safely removed in the office using a microscope, instrumentation and suction.