Why performed:

Tympanoplasty – dry perforations of the eardrum, chronic ear infections with complications (persistent drainage through an eardrum perforation, severe retraction of the eardrum with erosion of the ossicles or skin trapped in the middle ear, conductive hearing loss, and middle ear adhesions).

Mastoidectomy – Chronic ear infections with complications (cholesteatoma, or skin trapped in the mastoid, vertigo, facial nerve paralysis, and abscess over mastoid bone).

How performed:

In the operating room under general anesthesia.  Done as an outpatient.  Pre-op labs may be required.  Chest x-ray and EKG are required if the patient is over age 50 or if heart or lung problems exist.

What to expect:

Pain (usually dull earache for several days), improvement in hearing may not be present immediately (due to packing in the ear canal and sometimes because this operation is staged into two procedures with repair of hearing done during the second operation).

What can go wrong: 

Minor bleeding (rarely a problem), infection (1% failure of the eardrum graft usually due to infection of the ear canal after surgery), hearing loss (very rare), vertigo (very rare), facial nerve paralysis (less than ½ %), anesthetic complications (death from anesthesia in a healthy patient is extraordinarily rare).

What you need to do:

Take antibiotics and pain medications given by the doctor.  Keep all water out of the ear canals. Call the doctor if you are severely dizzy or if your face does not move.  Return for a follow-up in 1 day.