Tympanoplasty (AKA Myringoplasty)


What is a tympanoplasty?

A tympanoplasty is an operation where the goal is to repair a perforated ear-drum.

Why do I need this operation?

A perforated ear-drum can go unnoticed in many people as it may not produce any problems. However, if your ear-drum has a hole which is causing issues, such as regular ear infections, stopping you swimming, or hearing loss, then the surgery can help alleviate these.

How is the operation performed?

A tympanoplasty is typically performed with the patient asleep under a general anaesthetic. Depending on where the perforation is on the ear-drum and the width of your ear canal, the incision can vary. In most adults, it is possible to make an incision within the tragus of the ear but occasionally the incision may be just in front or just behind the ear. A small “graft” is taken which is then used to patch up the perforation. The natural ear-drum then uses this as a “scaffold”, allowing it to repair. The operation takes about one hour and it usually takes a few weeks before the repair forms an air-tight seal.

What are the risks of a tympanoplasty?

The chances of complications from a tympanoplasty are low. The possible complications include failure of the ear-drum to heal, bleeding, infection, scar formation, hearing loss, tinnitus and taste disturbance.

How can an ear operation affect my taste?

Just behind the ear-drum is a small nerve called the chorda tympani, which is responsible for supplying the taste to the front part of the tongue. Occasionally, this nerve can be damaged or stretched during surgery.

What should I do after surgery?

After your tympanoplasty, you will have some absorbable dressings within the ear which must be kept dry. When bathing, it is advisable to use a cotton ball covered in Vaseline to keep water out. You mustn’t fly or swim until the ear-drum has healed. If the stitches are not dissolvable, then these should be removed at around five days post surgery.