Symptoms and causes

When is it indicated?

The closing of a perforation of the eardrum is referred to as a 'tympanoplasty'. It is best to operate on a perforated eardrum if:

  • the patient would like to swim without earplugs
  • there is hearing loss
  • there are recurrent infections

For children, we do this starting at the age of 8.

Process

A tympanoplasty is a routine procedure that can almost always be performed as a same-day procedure. A small incision is made behind the ear to take a small slice of muscle (fascia). This thin, but strong, piece of fascia is pushed under the perforation and adheres to it tightly. Over the course of four weeks, the eardrum grows over this slice until that piece of fascia disappears (which, ultimately, is dead material).

Although this is generally referred to as an 'eardrum transplant', it does not actually use any material from the patient. It is at times necessary to repair auditory bones, for example, to introduce a small prosthesis into the middle ear.

Guidelines for at home

You may not do sports, perform heavy duty work or fly in an airplane for three weeks. You may not swim for one month.

Patients wear a bandage for four days and usually come in three times for a check-up. After four to six weeks, you will generally have recovered.

Results

The probability of achieving a good result from this routine procedure is quite high, and the risks are limited.

Centres and specialist areas

Ear, nose, and throat diseases

Latest publication date: 11/08/2021
Supervising author: Dr Vermeiren Judith