Surgery is only used in cases where it is needed. There are several procedures, each one dependent on the cause. Below is a selection of them:
Cochlear Implant to treat hearing loss :
Procedure – The cochlear implant is an electronic appliance consisting of two sections, one internal and the other external. The internal part is installed during surgery, and works by bypassing the damaged hair cells in the inner ear to send messages to the hearing nerve, and then through to the brain. Once healing is complete, the external apparatus is attached to the inner section by a coil and magnet.
Benefits – Enables those with severe and profound hearing loss to hear everyday sounds, such as speech and the telephone.
Risks – The sounds produced are not like normal sounds, and it may take time for patients to adjust, in some cases requiring training. Destroys any residual hearing, meaning there is no turning back. Other risks include infection, dizziness, bleeding, ringing in the ear, and device malfunction.
Myringotomy Surgery to treat hearing loss:
Procedure – This is usually a one day procedure done under general anaesthetic. An incision is made in the eardrum, through which a small vacuum appliance is placed to remove fluid. Further treatment may then be done through antibiotics, but if the fluid is thick a grommet may be needed. This is a plastic tube that allows air to flow through the eardrum to the middle ear, moving the fluid and drying it in the middle ear. If a grommet was used, it can sometimes take up to a year for the dried up fluid to exit.
Benefits – Improved hearing, and lessening of pressure and pain in the ear.
Risks – Worsening of hearing, thickening of the eardrum, persistent secretion discharge from the ear, and eardrum perforation.
Stapes Surgery to treat hearing loss:
Procedure – This is usually done under local anaesthetic and is for those suffering from otosclerosis, an irregular growth of bones in the ear. The procedure involves the stapes bone, one of the three small bones that make up the ossicles in the middle ear, being replaced by a prosthetic one, usually made of stainless steel.
Benefits – Improved hearing.
Risks – Tinnitus, worsening of hearing, and infection.
Tympanoplasty to treat hearing loss:
Procedure – This surgery is usually done under general anaesthetic, and is mostly an outpatient procedure. It involves mending the eardrum, but may be used to repair the ossicles in the middle ear, or, if needed, to eliminate an infection of the mastoid bone at the back of the ear.
Benefits – Improved hearing, but can take several weeks to discover whether treatment was successful.
Risks – Chance procedure may fail to restore hearing, and the possibility of a middle ear infection. If there is swelling in the ear or an excess of fluid discharge, it is recommended you contact your doctor.
Translabyrinthine Surgery to treat hearing loss:
Procedure – This surgical procedure is used to remove tumours, acoustic neuroma being one such example. A cut is made behind the ear at the mastoid, in order to gain access to the tumour without disturbing brain tissue. There are few muscles attached to the mastoid, making the pain afterwards minimal.
Benefits – Improved hearing.
Risks – If the tumour is large it can be dangerous to remove due to the size of the incision. Worsening of hearing is a possibility.