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What is Tympanoplasty?

Tympanoplasty is a surgery performed to repair a perforation in the tympanic membrane, also known as the eardrum. The tympanic membrane is a thin, translucent membrane that covers the end of the external auditory canal and separates the outer ear from the middle ear.

Indications for Tympanoplasty

Tympanoplasty may be indicated in the following conditions:

  • An ear infection that ruptures the tympanic membrane
  • A traumatic blow with a cupped hand to the ear
  • A puncture wound caused by a foreign object that penetrates the ear
  • Removal or extrusion of ventilation tubes which had been placed inside the ear
  • A growth inside the middle ear (cholesteatoma) that damages the tympanic membrane

Preparation for Tympanoplasty

Specific instructions will be provided by your surgeon. In general, you should:

  • Inform your surgeon about any health conditions, allergies, and medications you are taking.
  • Avoid smoking as it will slow down the healing process.
  • Follow the pre-surgery dietary restrictions.

Tympanoplasty Procedure

  • The procedure can be performed under local or general anesthesia.
  • To access the tympanic membrane, your surgeon may either make an incision behind the ear (postauricular approach) or use a speculum which is placed through the opening of the ear canal (transcanal approach).
  • The margins around the perforation will be trimmed with special instruments.
  • Incisions will be made in the ear canal and the skin of the ear canal is elevated along with the remaining healthy tympanic membrane.
  • A graft, which is usually obtained from the skin above the ear, will be placed underneath the tympanic membrane to cover the perforation.
  • The elevated tissue will be put back in place and dressings will be placed in the area.
  • Following the procedure, you will be moved to the recovery room for a short period of observation.

Recovery after Tympanoplasty

  • You may require 1 to 2 hours to recover from the effects of general anesthesia before discharge home.
  • There may be temporary ear discomfort. Your surgeon will provide medications to alleviate symptoms as necessary.
  • Complete healing may take 4-6 weeks. Avoid getting the ear wet, manipulating the ear, or putting cotton swabs inside the ear, or performing any strenuous activity during this period.
  • Keep your follow-up visits as recommended to ensure a positive surgical outcome.

Risks Associated with Tympanoplasty

Tympanoplasty is a very safe procedure and can prevent the potential spread of infection to the middle ear and hearing loss; however, as with any other surgery, there is a minimal risk of complications that include infection, bleeding, delayed healing, nerve injury, and hearing loss.