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A mastoidectomy is a surgery to remove part of the mastoid bone just behind your ear.


Before your surgery:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • Pre-op care: You may be given medicine right before your surgery to make you feel relaxed and sleepy. You are taken on a stretcher to the room where your surgery will be done.
  • Medicines:
    • Antibiotics: Antibiotics may be given to help prevent an infection caused by bacteria. You may get antibiotics before and after your surgery.
    • Steroids: Steroid medicine may help decrease facial swelling. Steroids may also help decrease or prevent nausea. You may get steroids before and after your surgery.
    • Anesthesia: Anesthesia is medicine to make you comfortable during surgery. Do not make important decisions, drive, or use heavy equipment for 24 hours after you have anesthesia. An adult will need to drive you home and stay with you after you have had anesthesia. You may get the following:
      • General anesthesia will keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Anesthesia may be given through your IV. You may instead breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down your throat. The tube may cause you to have a sore throat when you wake up.
      • Local anesthesia: This is a shot of medicine put into your ear to numb the area. Local anesthesia medicine may be used with general anesthesia.

During your surgery:

  • Your caregiver will look inside your ear before cleaning it. An incision will be made behind or inside your ear. Your caregiver will monitor your facial nerve during surgery to protect it from injury. Your facial nerve controls the movements of your face. A small drill will be used to remove part or all of your mastoid bone and air cells. The amount of bone and tissue your caregiver removes will depend on the size of the diseased area. Your caregiver will clean out the area with saline fluid.
  • If your ear canal wall is removed, your caregiver may use a graft to rebuild it. The graft may be man-made, taken from another area of your body, or taken from a donor. A graft may also be used to repair or replace your eardrum. The graft may be secured with stitches or a sponge-like pad. A bandage soaked in a germ-killing paste may be put inside your ear to prevent infection. You may have a bandage over or around your ear. The bandage will help keep your wound clean and dry and help prevent infection.

After your surgery:

You are taken to a room to rest until you are awake. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. Your caregiver will check your facial movements and the feeling in your face. Sounds may echo, or you may not hear well because of blood, fluid, or bandages in your ear. When caregivers see that you are okay, you may be able to go home. If you are staying at the hospital, you will be taken to your hospital room.

  • Medicines:
    • Antihistamines: Antihistamine medicine helps prevent allergy symptoms. Antihistamines may also help prevent nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.
    • Antinausea medicine: Antinausea medicine calms your stomach and controls vomiting. Pain medicine and antinausea medicine are often given at the same time.
    • Pain medicine: This medicine helps take away or decrease your pain. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease enough for you to feel better. Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for your pain medicine. The medicine may not control your pain well if you wait too long to take it. Ask your caregiver for help getting out of bed if you feel tired or dizzy.
    • Patient-controlled analgesia: You may get pain medicine through your IV from a special pump. This is called patient-controlled analgesia (PCA). The PCA pump has a cord with a button on the end. When you feel pain and push the button, you will give yourself pain medicine. To keep you from getting too much medicine, there is a limit on how often you can get the medicine. Do not let anyone else push the button for you. Your pump may give you a constant dose of pain medicine, as well as the medicine that you give yourself. If your pain is still severe even with the PCA, let your caregivers know.


  • During surgery, you may bleed more than expected. You may have damage to nearby tissue, bone, and nerves. Facial nerve damage may lead to facial nerve paralysis. You are also at risk for damage to your brain during surgery. If your inner ear needs to be removed, you will have permanent hearing loss. After surgery, you may have a dry mouth and changes in how things taste. You may have pain, dizziness, or get an infection. An infection may spread to other areas of your body, such as your spinal cord or brain. You may get tinnitus (ringing in your ears) and you may have short-term or permanent hearing loss. Even with surgery, all of the diseased areas may not be removed. Your ear disease may return, and you may need another surgery.
  • If you do not have the mastoidectomy, your ear damage or infection may get worse. You may have chronic ear drainage, and your eardrum may tear. You may have new or increased breakdown of your mastoid or ear bones. You may have chronic dizziness, loss of balance, and new or worsening hearing loss. An abnormal opening may form in your ear from one area to another. Your ear disease may lead to facial nerve damage and facial nerve paralysis. An ear infection may spread to your spinal cord or brain. This can be life-threatening.


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.

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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.