Ear diseases affect people of all ages. Children commonly suffer from recurrent ear infections and fluid behind the eardrums. Adults are sometimes afflicted with age-related hearing loss. Vertigo and imbalance plague many of our senior citizens, but can strike people of any age. Our facility offers full audiological evaluation and treatment for all ear-related diseases. Our audiologist is an expert in helping patients select the proper hearing aids when there is no other way of improving the hearing. Our doctors treat ear diseases medically whenever possible, but sometimes surgery is necessary.
The surgical procedure for placing tubes in the ears has become one of the most commonly performed operations of any kind. A tiny hollow tube is slipped through an incision in the eardrum, allowing fluid or infection to be drained, and ending congestion in the middle ear space. Adults can be helped in the office; children are usually treated as outpatients.
Perforations can occur in the eardrum from many causes, including infection, trauma, and chronic middle ear disease. Many heal spontaneously. Those that don’t heal usually require microscopic repair, using small tissue grafts, to protect against hearing loss and infection. This surgery is done as an outpatient.
Located behind the ear, the mastoid bone connects to the middle ear and contains many air-filled spaces when healthy. Infection or disease in the ear or elsewhere can cause those spaces to fill with fluid, mucus or excess tissue (such as a cholesteatoma, a benign tumor that may grow out of a healing perforated ear drum and cause hearing damage). When medications and other non-surgical treatments such as antibiotics or professional cleaning fail to resolve the problem, mastoidectomy – surgical drainage – may be performed. Complications from surgery are rare but may include drainage from the ear, infection, temporary dizziness or loss of taste on one side of the tongue, hearing loss and, rarely, nerve injury to the side of the face operated upon.
Stapedectomy is an elective microsurgical procedure that replaces the stapes bone with a prosthesis (artificial bone) to counteract calcium deposits in the ear associated with otosclerosis. Surgery is performed under general or local anesthesia and can be done through the ear canal. The eardrum is raised and the middle ear opened, revealing the calcium deposit, which is then broken up with a laser. The remains of the vaporized stapes bone are removed and the bone is replaced. A tiny sample of tissue from behind the ear lobe is grafted to promote healing, and the incisions are closed. Complications are rare and depend on the patient’s anatomy. These may include temporary loss of taste on one side of the tongue, dizziness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and, rarely, facial nerve paralysis or partial or total hearing loss requiring the use of additional surgery or a hearing aid.
Canalplasty is procedure performed for “surfer’s ear.” Over many years of chronic cold water exposure, the bone of the ear canal expands to form lumps (exostoses) that narrow the ear canal. This can lead to chronic outer ear infections and hearing loss. If the narrowing has become severe, it can be corrected by drilling out the exostoses to re-create a normal ear canal.