What can I Expect During Eardrum Surgery?

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  • Written By: A. Pasbjerg
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2019
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Your experience with eardrum surgery can depend on several different factors. The surgeon may be able to do the procedure by going in through the ear canal, or he or she may need to make an incision behind the ear. The type of anesthesia used may vary with such factors as the extent of the procedure, how it is done, and the patient’s age. These variables will also help determine the location where it is performed and how long it takes.

During eardrum surgery, your doctor will need to have ready access to the area being operated on. Sometimes this can be accomplished by going in through the ear canal only, though a small incision may still be needed behind the ear to gather tissue to patch a perforation. If the ear canal is too small, however, or if the hole in the eardrum is too large to be completely accessible that way, then the surgeon may need to make a larger incision behind the ear to perform the procedure.


Depending on your age and the type of eardrum surgery you are having, you may be given local or general anesthesia. Adults having a myringoplasty, a procedure to correct a small hole in the tympanic membrane, will typically only receive local anesthesia. Those having a tympanoplasty to repair the eardrum or middle ear bones will likely need general anesthesia. Children having either of these procedures or placement of tubes in their ears will almost always receive general anesthesia.

The location where you have your eardrum surgery can also vary. Surgeries that repair perforations to the eardrum like myringoplasty and tympanoplasty are generally done in a hospital for children, while tubes are often placed in an outpatient setting. Adults having a tympanoplasty will also usually need to have the procedure done in an operating room, but the simpler myringoplasty may just be done in the doctor’s office.

Another factor that depends on the type of eardrum surgery you are having is the time it will take to complete. If you are just having a myringoplasty to patch a small hole, it will likely only take about 10 to 15 minutes. A tympanoplasty will take longer, probably between an hour and two hours, though it can be closer to three if the surgeon needs to go in through an incision behind the ear instead of through the canal.


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