Surgery to Correct Hearing Loss
Almost all people with hearing loss can benefit from using a hearing aid. Others, however, may need surgery to improve their hearing. Here are some surgical procedures that are performed to treat hearing loss:
• Myringoplasty. This procedure is used to repair a perforated eardrum (a hole in the eardrum) with a tissue graft (a transplantation of healthy tissue from one part of the body to another). The tissue is usually taken from another part of the ear, or from an area near the ear. The procedure is often performed using local anesthesia and causes a minimal amount of pain. The person may need to stay overnight in the hospital and will need to rest at home for about a week after surgery. In most cases, recovery is complete in about 6 weeks.
• Tympanoplasty and stapedectomy. These procedures are used to repair a perforated eardrum or to replace damaged bones in the middle ear. Damaged bones may be repaired, or they may be replaced with artificial implants, transplanted bones supplied by a donor, or bones constructed from cartilage. The procedure is performed using either local or general anesthesia and may cause mild pain for a few days. The person may not need to stay overnight in the hospital but will need to rest at home for about 7 to 10 days after surgery. In most cases, recovery is complete in about 2 months.
• Cochlear implant. This procedure involves implantation of an electronic device to treat severe sensorineural hearing loss that has caused total or near-total deafness. The implant changes sound waves into electronic impulses that are carried along the auditory nerve to the hearing center in the brain, enabling the person to distinguish different kinds of sounds and often to understand speech. The device has both internal and external components. The internal component (a special signal processor and electrodes) is surgically implanted into the ear while the person is under general anesthesia. The person usually needs to stay in the hospital for a couple of days. The ear will heal in about 4 to 6 weeks, after which the physician will fit the person with the external components (a microphone, a transmitting coil, a speech processor, and connecting wires). The person will then work with an audiologist to adjust the settings on the implant for the best hearing level and to learn how to use the device properly.