The tympanic membrane, or eardrum, separates the ear canal and the inner ear. The ossicles are small bones which connect the tympanic membrane to the inner ear.
Ruptured or perforated eardrums are usually caused by middle-ear infections or trauma (for example, an object in the ear, a slap on the ear, explosions, or repeated, excessive ear pressure from flying or diving).
If healing does not occur with antibiotics or other non-operative treatment, surgery may be necessary.
Chronic middle ear infections are described as:
- 5 or more ear infections in a year, or
- 3 or more ear infections a year over a two-year period
Signs of chronic ear infections include persistent ear pain, ear drainage, or hearing loss (over a 3-month period).
While the patient is deep asleep and pain-free, (general anesthesia), the surgeon grafts a small patch from the fascia of the forehead muscle (temporalis) onto the eardrum. This graft is used to repair the tear.
For problems with the small bones (ossicles), the surgeon will use an operating microscope to view and repair the chain of small bones using plastic devices or ossicles from a donor.
In most cases, the operation relieves pain and infection symptoms completely. Hearing loss is usually minor. However, if the ossicles require repair, outcome may be less optimal.
Patients usually leave the hospital the same day. After surgery, it is important to avoid getting water in the ear. Use a hair cap when showering for a few weeks.
Linda J. Vorvick, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Seth Schwartz, MD, MPH, Otolaryngologist, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-
A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.