Major Ear Surgery



Mr Russell will have discussed the reasons for the operation. The main aim of the surgery will be to provide a safe and dry ear, with the best possible hearing. Some ear conditions cause little effect of the patient's health but others are more serious and require more urgent and intensive treatment.


Mr Russell will give a guide as to the expected success rate of the operation and the problems that may be encountered. If any bone drilling is necessary, this will be explained. The care after the operation is very important and instructions will be given.


Admission will be on the day of surgery. Once in hospital, the routine admission procedures will take place, involving interviews with nursing staff. This will provide information necessary for your comfort and medical care.


The anaesthetist will visit to explain the form of anaesthetic to be used.


The trip to the operating theatre will be with a nurse, ending by meeting one of the operating room nurses, and the anaesthetist. The anaesthetist will then commence the anaesthetic using the method that was explained previously.





The surgery will be tailored to the individual problem, as explained by Mr Russell.





There may be a dressing over the ear, which will give a muffled sensation. This should remain in place until removed by Mr Russell.


Pain is usually mild and treated with simple analgesics ( Panadol or Panadeine).


There may be some dizziness, especially with sudden movement. It is important to NOT strain, sneeze, or bend over quickly in the early post-op days.





Surgery will have been advised because of the effect the ear disease is having on your hearing and your health.

As with all operations, there are potential problems that may arise.


Hearing Results

The potential for hearing improvement will depend on each individual case, and Mr Russell will discuss this with you. It is important to be aware that there is a small possibility that the hearing may be worse after the surgery. This may be planned and predicted,but it may also be unexpected. Such a problem must be managed on individual basis.



Discharge from the ear canal or from the wound is not unusual, especially with an infected ear pre-operatively. If this is profuse and offensive please contact Mr Russell.


Recurrence of Disease

A proportion of ear drum grafts will fail because of problems with the eustachian tube or infection. If this occurs, most will be able to undergo revision surgery.

Chronic infection and skin ingrowth (cholesteatoma) in the mastoid bone have a tendency to recur. A combination of appropriate surgery and careful follow-up will avoid troublesome problems.


Facial Weakness

The nerve that gives power to the face (facial nerve) passes through the middle ear and the mastoid bone. Surgery in this area involves identifying the nerve and protecting it. If the nerve is damaged there may be permanent weakness of the face. This is a rare complication but important to consider.


Change of Sense of Taste

In the approach into the ear, the nerve that gives taste to the tongue (chorda tympani) may be bruised or cut. This may lead to a strange sensation in the mouth that generally passes in time.



Problems may arise with the anaesthetic if it is associated with a recent cold or chest infection, or if there is an allergy to medications. It is important to answer any questions asked by medical staff accurately as this may prevent serious trouble.





Do I really need this operation?

There are generally alternative treatments for all illnesses, however if surgery is suggested, it will be because other methods have not been, or would not be effective. If the decision is being reconsidered, please discuss this with Mr Russell.


Can I blow my nose?

It is recommended not to blow the nose until Mr Russell suggested that it is OK. The pressure may damage the fragile repaired tissues.


When will I be able to return to work?

Return to strenuous exercise or work is NOT recommended for at least three weeks. After this time a slow return to normal activity is recommended.






1. Try to avoid sneezing, coughing or vigorous nose blowing. If unavoidable, sneeze or cough with the mouth open.


2. Some pain can be expected and depends on the extent of the operation. It should respond to simple analgesics (Panadol or Panadeine).


3. It is important to keep the ear dry. Care should be taken with hair washing.


4. Packing in the ear should be left alone. The cotton wool on the outside of the ear may be changed. A small amount of sometimes blood-stained discharge may be noticed.


5. Increasing pain and discharge may indicate infection that requires treatment. Please contact Mr Russell 


6. You will have an appointment  a week after the operation for removal of sutures or packing. During this time it is important to keep the ear dry.