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Tympanoplasty (TIM-pah-noh-plass-tee) is a surgery to repair the eardrum. The eardrum is a thin layer of tissue that vibrates in response to sound.

The eardrum, or tympanic membrane, is located deep within the ear canal. It can sometimes develop a hole in it, known as a tympanic membrane perforation. Causes of tympanic membrane perforations include trauma, either directly from objects like Q tips, or indirect, such as concussive forces from a slap to ear, and infection. The tympanic membrane helps amplify sound, and any defects in it can cause a decrease in hearing. Most tympanic membrane perforations heal on their own over time.  However, if the eardrum does not heal there is a risk of hearing loss and the ear is vulnerable to infections.  Repairing the hole requires the placement of a graft to allow the tympanic membrane to heal.

There are several procedures that can be performed to repair a hole in an ear drum.  The type of surgery depends on the size of the hole, the location on the ear drum, and other parts of your medical history.  A myringoplasty is a surgery where the hole is repaired using a graft made of either a small piece of tissue from elsewhere on the body (typically the earlobe), or a gel-like material.  A tympanoplasty involves a more extensive rebuilding of the ear drum. The goal of surgery is to close the hole in the eardrum and improve hearing. This surgery may be performed for several different reasons (improve hearing, decrease infections, etc.)

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How serious is a tympanoplasty?

This is the most minor of the procedures. It is performed in the office in adults and under anesthesia in children. The edges of the hole are irritated with an instrument, or mild acid, and a biologic tissue paper patch is placed over the hole and held on with a drop of blood or ointment.

How long does it take to recover from tympanoplasty?

Full tympanoplasty surgery recovery time can be 2 to 3 months. In fact, the hearing will probably be worse than it was before surgery until this packing dissolves. At the first post-operative visit, your doctor may gently clean the ear canal with a vacuum in order to inspect the reconstructed eardrum.

What happens after tympanoplasty surgery?

You may feel dizzy for a few days after surgery. The cut (incision) the doctor made behind your ear may be sore, and you may have ear pain for about a week. Some bloody fluid may drain from your ear canal and the incision. Your ear will probably feel blocked or stuffy.