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Ear Surgery (Otoplasty)

Ear Surgery (Otoplasty): What You Have and Haven’t Heard About Ear Surgery

Modern technology has reduced the challenge presented by ear surgery. Otoplasty (ear surgery) often calls on the surgeon to look into and operate through the ear canal. Modern-day operating microscopes increase the size of the image within the scope lens. When the ear surgeon uses an operating microscope, the objects in the ear appear larger.

Today, most ear surgery depends on the ability of the surgeon to manipulate a laser beam. Laser surgery is more precise than conventional surgery. Laser surgery removes from the operating room large amounts of a formerly seen substance – blood.

There are two types of laser surgery: carbon-dioxide-argon laser surgery and KTD laser surgery. Both types of surgery provide the ear surgeon with an excellent tool. Both types of laser surgery can be used to perform either a stapedectomy or to remove inflamed tissue.

During a stapedectomy, the laser beam is used to put a hole in the ear drum. The ear surgeon then raises a flap of tissue on the ear drum. By lifting that flap of tissue, the ear surgeon exposes the three bones in the middle ear. The ear surgeon uses the laser to vaporize the stapes (one of three bones in the middle ear).

Vaporization of the stapes allows the surgeon to proceed to the next step – placement of a “window” on the tissue between the middle and inner ear. Using a laser, the surgeon creates a small window in that tiny piece of tissue. The surgeon leaves the incus and malleus (the two other bones in the middle ear) intact.

The incus is attached to an artificial ear bone, a bone that replaces the vaporized stapes. Still, sound cannot be transmitted by the ear if the ear drum is damaged. The ear surgeon uses fat or other tissue to seal the window in one of the ear’s natural dividers.

That laser procedure gives hearing-impaired patients a chance to relax while they listen to a conversation. Replacement of the stapes is usually done in adult patients. Younger patients, ones who have had many ear infections, might need to have fluid drained from the middle ear.

Draining fluid from the middle ear requires surgery. The surgeon first dries the patient’s ear and gives the patient antibiotics. Then the surgeon slits the ear drum and inserts a tiny tube. Fluid drains from the middle ear into the tube.

After about 4 to 6 weeks, the tiny tube works its way out of the ear. By that time all the fluid that was once in the middle ear has drained away. The young patient no longer needs to repeat the words, “What did you say?”

The work of the ear surgeon has helped many children perform better at school. After ear surgery, they can hear the teacher better, and they remember almost everything they hear.