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Tympanoplasty is a surgical procedure performed to repair a hole in the eardrum or to correct other medical conditions affecting the health of the eardrum.

Understanding tympanoplasty

Tympanoplasty is an eardrum repair procedure that employs a variety of techniques, depending on the size and location of the hole, patient’s age and whether or not the patient has undergone previous ear surgery. It is done to restore hearing or treat damage to the eardrum in both children and adults.

The procedure is usually performed in an outpatient setting under general anesthesia and is one of the most common ear surgeries.

There are two main approaches to reach the inside of the ear. Your surgeon may make an incision behind the ear, known as a postauricular approach, or repair the damage through the ear canal utilizing a transcanal approach. Once the eardrum is exposed, the damaged area(s) are cleared away and the hole is repaired using a paper patch or tissue taken from another area of the ear.

Tympanoplasty typically takes about 2 to 3 hours.

Reasons for tympanoplasty

Tympanoplasty may be used as a treatment for the following conditions:

  • Large hole in the eardrum (tympanic membrane)
  • When there is a history of a chronic, persistent ear infection that doesn’t respond to antibiotic therapy
  • In cases where excess tissue or scar tissue has developed in the middle ear behind the eardrum

Risks of tympanoplasty

As with any surgical procedure, there are some potential risks with tympanoplasty. It is important to fully discuss all possible risks with your surgeon before undergoing tympanoplasty. Potential risks include:

  • Reaction to anesthesia or medication
  • Bleeding
  • Infection– of the incision site or inner ear
  • Dizziness – often resolves within a day or two
  • Worsening of hearing or hearing loss – slight chance of hearing loss in inner ear
  • Nerve damage – rarely, nerves can be injured leading to facial paralysis. Nerve injury can also lead to taste changes, which may be temporary or permanent
  • Poor or incomplete healing of the hole 

After tympanoplasty

It is important that the ear canal be kept dry after tympanoplasty. Packing may be used inside the ear for a few days or a dressing may be placed over the ear.

There are certain activities to avoid until cleared by your surgeon. DO NOT:

  • Use earplugs or cotton-tipped applicators
  • “Pop” your ears
  • Blow your nose
  • Sneeze through your nose
  • Manipulate the ear
  • Travel by air
  • Swim


Otolaryngology (Ent)

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