The stapes is a small bone in the middle ear, which plays a role in the conduction of sound form the outside to the inner ear. Occasionally, it becomes fixed due to disease (usually otosclerosis) and can no longer conduct sound. It then has to be removed or modified. A hearing aid is often another option for this condition. When the stapes is removed or modified, there is an excellent chance (90%) that hearing will be improved considerably. There is however, a small chance (less than 10%) that the hearing will be unchanged. On rare occasions, (less than 5%) the hearing will be worsened in the operated ear.
Complications from stapedectomy are infrequent and can be related to the presence of uncommon variations in anatomy. Because of the ear anatomy, taste will be altered somewhat on the anterior portion of the tongue for a period of time following the operation. This usually returns to normal in about two months.
It has also been noted that occasionally, following hearing improvement, that the hearing loss will return. This return of conductive hearing loss usually requires a second operation, but is potentially correctable. It is also possible, although quite uncommon, that an ear infection may occur following surgery resulting in a hole in the eardrum. This also can be corrected by a second operation. Frequently, there is a period of unsteadiness following surgery, but only rarely (less than 1% of patients) is the unsteadiness severe or permanent. The facial nerve, which goes to the muscles on the side of the face, crosses through the middle ear near the stapes. Rarely, (less than 1 in 1,000 patients) this nerve may be injured leaving weakness on that side of the face. Ringing in the operative ear usually improves with surgery, but sometimes it may become worse. Occasionally, ringing (tinnitus) may develop as a result of surgery. Fortunately, modern technology has made this delicate operation an overwhelming success in the vast majority of cases.
Instructions for After Surgery
- No vigorous exercise, flying, or altitude changes for 2 weeks after surgery.
- SCUBA diving is not recommended for at least 2 months after surgery.
- Keep any incision dry for 3 days.
- Do not sleep on operated side for three weeks.
- No heavy lifting over 25 pounds for four weeks.
- Use only 1 pillow.
- Change cotton ball daily until drainage subsides.
- If dizzy, use Dramamine or prescribed medication (call our office if severe).
- Keep water out of ears for 4 weeks after surgery.
- Minimize blowing the nose and sneezing. If you have to sneeze, open your mouth while sneezing.
- Avoid driving a car for one week.
- Call doctor for nausea, ringing, or buzzing that persists after 7 days.
Please call the office at 972-402-8404 and leave a message with the nurse for any questions or if you need further instructions or clarification of these instructions.