What you should know

  • Tympanoplasty is surgery to close a perforated (torn) tympanic membrane and repair your middle ear. Your tympanic membrane (eardrum) is a tissue found in the middle part of your ear. Your eardrum divides your outer ear canal from your inner ear. Tympanoplasty may be needed if your eardrum is completely torn, collapsed, or diseased. You may also need the surgery if your torn eardrum has caused a chronic (long-time) eustachian tube problem. Your eustachian tube connects your middle ear to your throat. Your ossicles (three middle-ear bones) and the bone behind your ear may also be damaged and need repair. How your surgery is done will depend on the type of damage seen in your middle ear.

  • During surgery, caregivers will close your torn eardrum by covering it with a graft. The graft may be placed on the torn portion of your eardrum or used to replace your whole eardrum. If there is damage to any of your ossicles, caregivers will repair them using a different graft. Both grafts may be a piece of skin or cartilage (tough tissue found in joints). The graft may be fascia (hard tissue that covers muscle) or the covering of your cartilage. The graft may be taken from an area of your body, another person, an animal, or man-made. With a tympanoplasty your hearing loss may improve. Your risk of ear infections may also be decreased.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


  • You may be allergic to the anesthesia used during your surgery. You may bleed more than expected, have pain, and you may get an infection. You may scar in the area your surgery was done, or where your graft was taken from. Your may get blood clots and your eardrum may collapse. Nerves or areas near your inner ear or face may be damaged during surgery. You may develop adhesions (abnormal fibrous connections) in your inner ear or narrowing of your ear canal.

  • You may have hearing loss, otorrhea (excess discharge coming from your ear), or myringitis (swelling of your eardrum) after your surgery. Your graft may fail, causing you to have an open hole in your eardrum again. You may develop a new hole in your eardrum after a few years and need another surgery. If you do not have the tympanoplasty, the hole in your ear may get bigger. Your hearing loss may get worse and lead to permanent hearing loss. You may have chronic ear infections. Chronic ear infections may spread to your head, neck, and brain, and may cause death. Call your caregiver if you have questions about your surgery, medicines, or care.

Getting Ready

Before your surgery:

  • Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine. Ask your caregiver if you need to start or stop using certain medicines before your surgery.

  • You may need to have blood tests and x-rays. You may also need hearing tests, such as pure tone audiometry. Ask your caregiver for more information about these and other tests that you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.

Night before your surgery:

  • Ask your caregiver about directions for eating and drinking.

Day of your surgery:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.

  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.

  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell caregivers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.

  • Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.


What will happen:

  • You will be taken to the room where your surgery will be done. You will then be moved to a special table or bed. Anesthesia medicine will be given to keep you free from pain during your surgery. Your ear and the area around it will be cleaned using a germ-killing solution. Sheets will be placed around your surgery site to keep the area clean. Caregivers may make an incision behind your ear to see your eardrum clearly. Caregivers may also make incisions inside your ear, and above or below your ear. Another incision will be made if your ear graft must be taken from another part of your body.

  • The edges of your torn eardrum will be trimmed, or your entire eardrum may be removed. Damaged ossicles will be repaired with a graft, and any damaged bone behind your ear may be removed. Your caregiver may pack your inner ear with a special sponge before repairing your eardrum. The sponge will help hold your graft in place. A different graft will be used to close your torn eardrum or to replace your eardrum. Another special sponge may be placed on the other side of your graft to secure it. Foam covered with antibiotic (germ-killing) medicine may also be placed in your ear canal. Caregivers will then close your incisions with stitches.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a room where you can rest until you wake up. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is OK. When caregivers see that you are having no problems, you may be able to go home. If you are staying in the hospital, you will be taken back to your room. You will have a bandage over your incision to cover your stitches. This bandage will help keep the area clean and dry to prevent infection.

Contact a caregiver if

  • You cannot make it to your surgery.

  • You get sick (a cold or the flu) or you have a fever.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You have bleeding in your ear.

  • You have dizziness that does not go away.

  • You have ringing in your ears that is getting worse.

  • You lose feeling in your face.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.