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  • A mastoidectomy is surgery to remove damaged or diseased areas of your mastoid bone. Your mastoid bone is found just behind your ear and has many small spaces called air cells inside. You may need a mastoidectomy if you have chronic otorrhea (ear drainage) or ear infections. Ear drainage and infection can enter your mastoid bone and air cells, causing the bone to break down. You may need a mastoidectomy if you have a cholesteatoma. A cholesteatoma is a sac of tissue that can grow inside your ear. A cholesteatoma can cause hearing loss, and may break down your mastoid bone. A mastoidectomy may also be done to remove a tumor (mass) or to repair a damaged ear drum.
    Ear Anatomy and Mastoid Bone
  • During surgery, the diseased part of your mastoid bone is removed through an incision (cut). Your caregiver may remove some, or all of your ear canal wall. Your ear canal wall separates your inner ear and your mastoid bone. Your caregiver may also remove tissue and bone from your inner ear. A mastoidectomy may decrease or resolve your symptoms, such as ear drainage. You may have fewer ear infections. After surgery, your hearing may improve.



  • Keep a current list of your medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Use vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
  • Take your medicine as directed: Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him about any medicine allergies, and if you want to quit taking or change your medicine.
  • Antibiotics: Antibiotic medicine is given to prevent or treat an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your caregiver. Keep taking this medicine until it is completely gone, even if you feel better. Stopping antibiotics without your caregiver's OK may make the medicine unable to kill all of the germs. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.
  • Antihistamines: Antihistamine medicine may be given to help prevent allergy symptoms, such as sneezing. Antihistamines may help prevent nausea or vomiting (throwing up). They may also help prevent dizziness.
  • Antinausea medicine: Antinausea medicine may be given to calm your stomach and control vomiting.
  • Ear drops: Your caregiver may give you ear drops to prevent infection and decrease swelling. Follow your caregiver's instructions about how to put the medicine in your ear.
    Pull Up and Back
    Press on the Ear Flap
  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.

Follow-up visit information:

Ask your caregiver when to return for follow-up visits. You will need to see your caregiver so he can check, and clean your ear. Do not remove your bandage unless your caregiver tells you to. Your caregiver may remove the bandage at your visit. You may need follow-up hearing tests. If you have an eardrum graft, your caregiver will check that the graft is secure. Make sure to keep all your planned visits with your caregiver. Write down any questions you may have so that you will remember to ask them during your next visit.


Caregivers may tell you to rest more than normal. Avoid activities where you need to bend over at the waist. Avoid lifting heavy items for 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. Ask your caregiver when you can return to your regular activities.

Air travel:

You cannot travel by plane for at least three weeks after your surgery. Ask your caregiver when it will be safe for you to travel by plane.

Hearing and communication:

After surgery, you may hear popping and cracking sounds for 3 to 5 weeks. This is normal, and the sounds usually go away with time. You may also have short-term or permanent hearing loss after surgery. Permanent hearing loss occurs if your caregiver needed to remove your inner ear during surgery. Turning off noisy devices in your home, such as the radio, can help you better hear people speaking. Ask people to face you when speaking and to avoid shouting. Good lighting in your home can help you see people's faces better when they are speaking to you. Ask your caregiver about devices, such as a hearing aid, that may help improve your hearing.


If you have dizziness after your surgery, you may be at risk for falls. Ask someone to help you move rugs or other items in your home that you may trip on. It may help to have another person close by when walking or climbing stairs. Make sure you sit down right away if you start to feel dizzy.

Stop smoking:

Smoking increases the risk that your ear disease will return after surgery. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask your caregiver for help to stop smoking if you are having trouble quitting.

Wound and ear care:

  • Ask your caregiver how to care for your wound after surgery. You may have cotton balls in your ear after surgery that you change at home. Avoid getting water in your ear for 6 to 8 weeks after surgery. You may be able to wash your hair 2 to 3 days after your surgery. Caregivers may tell you to put a cotton ball covered with petroleum jelly in your ear when you shower. If your wound gets wet, gently pat it dry. If you have a bandage on or over your ear, keep it clean and dry.
  • If you have an eardrum graft, avoid blowing your nose for 2 to 3 weeks. When blowing your nose, gently blow one side at a time. When sneezing or coughing, do so with your mouth open. Caregivers may have you do the Valsalva maneuver (breathing exercise) three times a day for two weeks after surgery. Ask your caregiver for more information on the Valsalva maneuver and safe ways to blow your nose.


  • You have a fever.
  • You have new or increased dizziness.
  • You feel fullness or pressure in your ear.
  • Your wound is red and swollen.
  • You have questions about your surgery, medicine, or care.


  • You have bad smelling ear drainage or pus coming from your ear.
  • You have bleeding from your wound that does not stop.
  • You have hearing loss that is worse than before your surgery.
  • You have sharp ear pain that spreads to other areas, such as your face or jaw.
  • You have trouble moving or feeling areas of your face.
  • Your mouth droops on the side where you had surgery.

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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Mastoidectomy (Aftercare Instructions)

Micromedex® Care Notes