A mastoidectomy is surgery to remove cells in the hollow, air-filled spaces in the skull behind the ear. These cells are called mastoid air cells.
This surgery used to be a common way to treat an infection in mastoid air cells. In most cases, the condition was caused by an ear infection that spread to the bone in the skull.
Why the Procedure Is Performed
Mastoidectomy may be used to treat:
- Complications of an ear infection (otitis media)
- Infections of the mastoid bone that do not get better with antibiotics
- To place a cochlear implant
Risks may include:
- Changes in taste
- Hearing loss
- Infection that persists or keeps returning
- Noises in the ear (tinnitus)
- Weakness of the face
Chole RA. Chronic otitis media, mastoiditis, and petrositis. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund V, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 139.
Stevens SM, Lambert PR. Mastoidectomy. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund V, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 142.
Review Date: 9/17/2016
Reviewed By: Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, general surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.