Tympanoplasty is a surgical procedure performed to reconstruct the eardrum when it has been badly torn or perforated. There are several reasons a tympanoplasty may need to be performed, including congenital deafness and injury to the tympanic membrane due to: serious or chronic middle ear infections, accidents, or extreme changes in air pressure.
Whenever there are symptoms of pain, discharge or bleeding from the ear, or hearing loss, a doctor should be consulted since these symptoms may be the result of eardrum perforation. Eardrum perforation is diagnosed by an examination of the ear using an instrument known as an otoscope. A hearing test is also often performed to evaluate whether the patient has sustained any hearing loss. Minor eardrum perforations may not require treatment since they will heal on their own. When the injury does not heal in a few weeks, a tympanoplasty is usually necessary.
During tympanoplasty the surgeon makes a cut either behind the ear or inside the ear canal. When the eardrum is perforated, there may be fractures of the small bones of the inner ear, called ossicles, as well. This happens frequently in children as a result of ear infections. When this occurs, the bones involved must be removed, repaired or replaced. If there is only a small hole in the eardrum, the doctor may be able to perform a lesser procedure, called a myringoplasty
A tympanoplasty procedure is usually performed outpatient, meaning patients are able to return home later the same day.
While tympanoplasty is considered a safe and effective procedure, there are risks associated with any type of surgical procedure. Risks of a tympanoplasty may include: excessive bleeding, infection, breathing problems, adverse reaction to anesthesia, hearing loss and facial nerve injury. These complications are considered rare and are minimized by having an experienced and skilled surgeon perform the procedure. The symptoms experienced before the surgical procedure, such as hearing loss, usually abate quickly after the tympanoplasty procedure. During the period immediately following a tympanoplasty, patients should refrain from swimming, air travel and crowds.