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A mastoidectomy is a surgical procedure that removes diseased mastoid air cells. The mastoid is the part of your skull located behind your ear. It’s filled with air cells made of bone and looks like a honey comb. The diseased cells are often the result of an ear infection that has spread into your skull. The procedure can also be used to remove an abnormal growth of the ear known as a cholesteatoma.
There are variations of mastoidectomy procedures, including:
You can expect some hearing loss from a radical and modified radical mastoidectomy.
This surgery isn’t as common as it used to be. Antibiotics usually treat infections, but surgery is an option if antibiotics fail.
A mastoidectomy can treat complications of chronic otitis media (COM). COM is an ongoing ear infection in your middle ear. A cholesteatoma, which is a skin cyst, can be a complication from these ongoing infections. The cyst grows gradually over time and may lead to serious complications such as:
Your doctor may also perform a mastoidectomy to put in a cochlear implant. This small, complex electronic device can help provide you with a sense of sound if you’re profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing.
This surgery can also remove abnormal growths at the base of your skull.
Your doctor usually performs a mastoidectomy using general anesthesia. This ensures that you’re asleep and unable to feel pain. For a simple mastoidectomy, your surgeon will usually:
Your surgeon may also use a facial nerve monitor during surgery. This helps to limit injury to the facial nerve.
You can expect to have bandages over your ear when you wake up. There will also be stitches close to your ear. You may have a headache, discomfort, and some numbness.
After surgery, your doctor may:
Follow your doctor’s specific instructions on caring for your wound, as well when you can swim or bathe. You should avoid all strenuous activity for at least two to four weeks afterward, depending on your surgery. Also refrain from putting pressure on your ear.
Complications of a mastoidectomy can include:
Call your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. You should also call your doctor if you have heavy ear bleeding or discharge, a fever over 100.5°F (38°C), or if your wound is not healing properly.
The outlook varies depending on the reason for the mastoidectomy and the type of mastoidectomy procedure. Some hearing loss is common with both modified radical and radical mastoidectomy.
You need to have regular follow-up appointments with your doctor if you had a cholesteatoma. At your post-operative follow-up, your doctor will check to make sure that your ear is healing correctly and that any complications are resolving.
Written by: Natalie Phillips
Medically reviewed on: May 03, 2017: Judith Marcin, MD
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