Stapes surgery is a procedure to treat loss of hearing caused by otosclerosis, a condition that affects the normal functioning of the stapes bone (one of the middle ear bones forming the ossicular chain that conducts sound). Bony overgrowth causes the stapes joint to become rigid or fixed in place thereby preventing sound waves from reaching the inner ear. This condition hampers the process of nerve stimulation inside the inner ear and causes hearing impairment. Stapedectomy surgery involves replacing the damaged stapes with a prosthesis (artificial stapes) so that sound is effectively transmitted from the eardrum to the inner ear. This resolves the problem of impaired hearing.
Stapes surgery is performed under the effect of general anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedative. The procedure will be performed using an operating microscope. Steps of the procedure include:
- Your surgeon will first make an incision in the ear canal and lift the eardrum.
- A small drill or laser will be used to remove a part or the whole of the damaged stapes bone.
- An artificial piston (metal or plastic prosthesis) will be placed in the gap to reconnect the middle ear bones and the inner ear.
- The eardrum will be placed back into its original position and will be supported with packing material in the ear canal.
After the procedure, you may be able to hear on and off during the first few weeks with a temporary muffled sound. The dressing will be left inside the ear canal for 1 or 2 weeks. Avoid air travel, vigorous blowing of nose and entry of water into the ear. Keep the ear clean and dry; change the cotton wool if it gets soiled, but do not pull the dressing out. A hearing test may be conducted after 1 to 2 months. Regular activities can be resumed after consulting your doctor.
Risks and Complications
As with any surgery, stapes surgery involves certain risks and complications. They include:
- Infection or bleeding
- Damage to eardrum
- Slipped artificial stapes
- Diminished hearing
- Altered taste
- Rarely, facial weakness
After the stapes surgery, you are advised to have regular hearing tests to keep track of the surgical outcome and condition of the other unoperated ear.