When the tube that equalizes pressure in your ear (eustachian tube) functions poorly due to a cold or allergy, a vacuum can occur in the middle ear. This vacuum sucks areas of the eardrum weakened by repeated ear infections, causing a pouch or abnormal growth of skin behind the eardrum. This is actually a growth of the skin cells of the eardrum collecting and forming what is called a cholesteatoma. This growth can damage any bone that is near if not treated, causing dizziness, facial nerve damage, deafness, an infection in your brain, or even death. You may need to have surgery to remove the growth or infected bone from your ear.
Under general anesthesia your surgeon will make an incision behind your ear so that the inside of your ear can be reached. Any growth or infected bone is then removed. Packing will be placed in your ear to help promote healing. The incision site is then closed with stitches and covered with steri strips or tape. This surgery is usually done in about one-and-a-half to three hours so you should be able to go home the same day as your surgery.
You will wake up in the recovery room after your surgery where you will be monitored by the nurses and anesthesiologist. You should be able to go home the same day as your surgery. You will have stitches behind your ear covered with steri strips that will need to be kept on your ear until you come in for your two-week appointment when a nurse will remove them for you. You will then come back two weeks later to have packing removed from the inside of your ear by your surgeon. You should have little or no pain following surgery. You should also have little or no bleeding following surgery; you should not have any fever and little or no nausea and vomiting.
You will need to avoid getting your ear wet following surgery. When you do take a shower you will need to protect your ear with a cotton ball with a small amount of petroleum jelly on it. Call your ENT surgeon with a fever of 101° F or greater, any uncontrolled pain, or any dizziness that last more than a few days. Also call if you are having nausea and or vomiting. Before doing any traveling at high altitudes, swimming, scuba diving, or playing contact sports please call and clear this with your surgeon.
Some of the possible risks and complications of a Tympanoplasty are infection, the graft not holding and exposing the hole in the eardrum, further hearing loss, ringing in the ears, dizziness or facial nerve damage or numbness in the outer ear. Also you may experience dry mouth or notice a change in your sense of taste.