A tympanoplasty is a surgical procedure to reconstruct the tympanic membrane (eardrum) or the ossicles (small bones in the middle ear). The procedure is performed via an incision made into the ear canal.

What is it? 

The eardrum can become perforated in the event of a chronic infection or trauma. A small perforation in the tympanic membrane will typically heal on its own. However, larger perforations may require surgery. A tympanoplasty is a procedure in which a small hole in the tympanic membrane, otherwise known as the eardrum, or the bones of the middle ear are repaired.

What should I do to prepare?

Any previous medical conditions, as well as any current medications, should be discussed with the dentist performing the procedure. Local anesthesia or general anesthesia may be utilized depending on the complexity of the procedure. There also may be dietary restrictions before the procedure. Individuals should also make transportation accommodations because anesthesia usage will inhibit the patient from driving a car.

What happens during the process?

The four most commonly chosen methods are known as patch, fat, medial, and lateral tympanoplasty.

A patch tympanoplasty is a minor procedure in which a surgical instrument is used to place a biological patch over the perforated eardrum. The edges of the hole are irritated, and the patch is attached utilizing the small amount of blood from the irritation.

A fat tympanoplasty is a minor procedure in which a small amount of fat is removed from the ear lobe. The fat is then used to patch the hole in the eardrum in the same manner as the biological patch.

A medial tympanoplasty is performed under local or general anesthesia. The ear canal is widened through a small incision behind the ear. The eardrum is then lifted via the incision into the ear canal using a tissue graft, usually from cartilage or the ear muscle.

A lateral tympanoplasty is performed under local or general anesthesia and is typically utilized to repair larger holes in the eardrum. The ear canal is widened via an incision into behind the ear. Most of the tympanic membrane is removed, and an ear muscle graft is utilized to great a new eardrum.

What are the risks and potential complications?

The risks and complications associated with most surgical interventions apply to a tympanoplasty, including a reaction to local anesthetics or anesthesia and the potential for excessive bleeding during or after the procedure.

Risks and complications associated with a tympanoplasty include pain and failure to heal the damage to the eardrum. In the case of an unsuccessful surgery, individuals typically undergo a revision surgery and are successful. Although rare, the development of a post-procedural ear infection may also occur. It is also rare but possible for individuals to experience facial nerve paralysis as the facial nerve travels through the ear.


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