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A tympanomastoidectomy is a surgical procedure to remove growths or infected bone from inside the ear. The surgery is usually performed by an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist, and is usually done as an outpatient procedure. Surgery is not always necessary to remove a growth or infection, but it is often the best course of treatment when the condition does not heal on its own.
The Eustachian tube helps equalize pressure in the ear. When the tube does not work properly, it can create suction in the middle ear that can cause recurring ear infections and growths. Problems with the Eustachian tube are often related to colds and allergies. A growth that forms near the eardrum can cause nerve damage, brain infections, deafness, or even death in extreme cases, so it is important to remove it promptly.
Surgeons usually use general anesthesia when performing a tympanomastoidectomy. They make an incision behind the ear so that they can access the inner parts of the ear with surgical tools to remove infected cells and damaged bone. If a large piece of bone is removed, the surgeon may reconstruct portions or replace it with synthetic material. The ear is then packed with sterile gauze to help it heal, and the incision site is closed with stitches or a liquid surgical adhesive.
Many patients experience no side effects other than mild discomfort after the operation, and this can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription painkillers. A metallic taste is also common if the Chorda Tympani nerve in the middle ear is disturbed or injured during the procedure. Patients can usually return to work and daily activities immediately following surgery, though the incision site must be kept dry.
Patients should notify their doctor or surgeon immediately if they develop severe pain, dizziness, or a fever following surgery, as these can be signs of an infection. Nausea and vomiting can also be signs of serious complications. While rare, hearing loss and nerve damage may also occur. Patients should discuss any questions or concerns with their surgeon before the operation.
Most surgeons schedule a follow-up appointment about two weeks after the surgery to examine the ear and remove any stitches. A hearing test may be administered during this visit if the patient complains of hearing loss. For many patients, no additional follow up is necessary after the sutures are removed unless there are other complications.