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What is a Tympanomastoidectomy?

By Amanda Barnhart
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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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.

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Discussion Comments
By anon944676 — On Apr 08, 2014

I had this surgery six months ago, but it was a little different. They allowed my ear to recover and are now going back in to reconstruct the ear bones. It was an easy procedure and I comprehending exactly what was going on. I was 17 at the time and I am now 18.

By anon937015 — On Mar 03, 2014

I had surgery with the case of "Tympanomastoiditis with Cholesteatoma" or Madtoidectomy because of Acute Otitis Media. It started to occur when I was 5 years old, and until now am still suffering after surgery at the age of 27. I have pus with an unpleasant smell. I still have it and sometimes my ear bleeds and causes severe pain when temperature rises above 35 and below 25 degrees. I need an alternative diagnosis about my case because of expensive check-ups with ENT specialists when they're using several rare equipment and other applications. I am Ed from Philippines.

By anon322259 — On Feb 26, 2013

This is my fourth day after surgery and the site is still painful. Although the swelling has subsided, my ear has some drainage. Is this normal?

By scifreak — On May 02, 2011

@seekinfo2- I never knew there was such a surgery until we watched a tympanomastoidectomy video in medical school. I had no idea that much damage could be done to bone by infection. No wonder the patient was in such severe pain.

By seekinfo2 — On Apr 30, 2011

My brother had the tympanomastoidectomy procedure done when he was 12. He had severe allergies, and always had pain and swelling in his ears.

They had to remove a large piece of bone from his left ear and replace it. It was very damaged by all the infection he had going on.

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