Tiny electronic devices surgically implanted behind the ear -- have given the gift of hearing to thousands of children and adults. Cochlear implants are not hearing aids, which amplify sounds the ear already hears; rather, while the implants do not restore a deaf person's hearing, they help a person to understand the sounds in their environment, such as speech. The implant consists of a microphone to pick up sound, a speech processor to process that sound, a transmitter/receiver which converts the sound information to electrical impulses, and electrodes that send those impulses to the brain.
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Located behind the ear, the mastoid bone connects to the middle ear and contains many air-filled spaces when healthy. Infection or disease in the ear or elsewhere can cause those spaces to fill with fluid, mucus or excess tissue (such as a cholesteatoma, a benign tumor that may grow out of a healing perforated ear drum and cause hearing damage). When medications and other non-surgical treatments such as antibiotics or professional cleaning fail to resolve the problem, mastoidectomy – surgical drainage – may be performed.
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Myringotomy & Ear Tubes
Myringotomy is the most frequently performed ear operation and the second-most common surgical procedure in children younger than two. It is performed to drain fluid from the ear, restore lost hearing, relieve pain and prevent infections. During a myringotomy, an opening is made in the eardrum to drain excess fluid. The surgeon may then insert a tube that will remain in place for a few months.
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Stapedectomy is an elective microsurgical procedure that replaces the stapes bone with a prosthesis (artificial bone) to counteract calcium deposits in the ear associated with otosclerosis.
Surgery is performed under general or local anesthesia and can be done through the ear canal. The ear drum is raised and the middle ear opened, revealing the calcium deposit, which is then broken up with a laser. The remains of the vaporized stapes bone are removed and the bone is replaced. A tiny sample of tissue from behind the ear lobe is grafted to promote healing, and the incisions are closed.
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Tympanoplasty is an elective, ambulatory microsurgical procedure performed to close a perforation in the tympanic membrane (ear drum) when non-surgical methods are ineffective. Perforations may be caused by infections, injuries, flying with a cold and cotton swabs; symptoms include drainage or bloody discharge from the ear, hearing loss, dizziness when water enters the ear and frequent ear infections. Antibiotics, decongestants, ear drops and abrasion with a small hook are often tried before surgery is recommended.
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