Mastoidectomy (Ear Drum Repair)

Tympanoplasties and Mastoidectomies are often performed as a result of ear infections in young children. A tympanoplasty repairs a hole, or perforation, in a child’s eardrum. The hole may be the result of a bad ear infection, the use of tubes to prevent ear infections, or the result of something like a Qtip being jammed into the ear too forcefully. A mastoidectomy is performed to remove tissue from the bone behind the ear. This bone contains air cells that make it look somewhat like a honeycomb. Occasionally, an ear infection can spread to these cells, and a mastoidectomy would be performed to remove the diseased cells. While both procedures are more commonly performed on children, adults may occasionally need a tympanoplasty or mastoidectomy.

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When Procedure is Used

Perforations of the eardrum often close on their own, and they rarely lead to complications or hearing loss. However, if a perforation has not closed within three months once an infection and any drainage have cleared, it will not likely close without surgical intervention. If a child has experienced any hearing loss from a perforation, hearing is very likely to return to normal after a tympanoplasty.

Mastoidectomies are performed to treat a chronic ear infection in the middle ear. If left untreated, such infections can cause much more severe problems such as cysts, deafness, and dizziness.

During Surgery

Both surgeries are performed under general anesthesia. A simpler version of the tympanoplasty is performed by inserting a patch to cover the eardrum and facilitate regrowth, and a true tympanoplasty involves a similar patch and a packing material that dissolves within a few months. Tympanoplasties can sometimes be performed via the ear canal, which means the doctor does not have to make an incision. However, they are also performed by making an incision behind the ear through which the surgeon can place the patch and other materials into position.

With a mastoidectomy, the surgeon will make an incision behind the ear to access the mastoid bone. The diseased cells are removed and the incision can then be sewn closed.


The risk of complications is very low. However, potential risks might include

  • allergic reactions to medications
  • infection
  • injury to surrounding tissues
  • dizziness


  • decrease in or elimination of ear infections
  • decrease in or elimination of pain caused by ear infections
  • improvement in hearing and speech
  • improvement in balance

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