A perforated eardrum is treated by the surgical procedure known as, myringoplasty. Repairing a perforated eardrum will help prevent the middle ear becoming infected and may improve hearing.
Surgery will normally be carried out under a general anaesthetic so you’ll be asleep during the procedure. During the operation the surgeon will be using very small, precision instruments while looking at the area through a microscope.
The operation involves taking a small piece of tissue (or graft) from under the patient’s skin near the ear. This graft is used to close the hole in the eardrum. The graft will be inserted through an incision made either behind or in front of your ear, or sometimes in your ear canal. The eardrum will be lifted and the graft will be placed underneath it, supported with some dissolving material, to hold the graft in place while it heals. This may need to remain in place for two weeks and then drops will be applied to dissolve the material.
As if you’ve had a general anaesthetic, you won’t be able to drive for 24 hours after surgery. There may be some pain after the anaesthetic wears off and we’ll help relieve this with painkillers. Before you go home we’ll discuss any aftercare requirements or follow-up appointments with you.
You’ll probably be advised to stay away from work for a week and will need to keep water out of the ear during this time.
A myringoplasty carries some risks. These include failure of the graft to repair the perforation, loss of hearing or tinnitus. In some cases, because the nerve that detects taste runs close to the eardrum, patients may find their sense of taste is disturbed. Dizziness may be experienced after the operation and, after any surgical procedure, there is a small chance of infection in the area.
Many perforated eardrums will heal by themselves without any intervention. Infections of the middle ear can often be successfully treated with antibiotics and drops. When the symptoms include poor hearing, a hearing aid may improve the situation.