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Tympanoplasty: Before Your Surgery

Anatomy of the ear and the middle ear

What is tympanoplasty?

Tympanoplasty (say "tim-PAN-oh-plass-tee") is surgery to repair a hole in the eardrum. The surgery may be done to improve hearing. It is also done to stop frequent ear infections that other treatment does not help.

You will get medicine to make you sleep or feel relaxed during the surgery. You will not feel pain. The surgery is usually done through the opening of the ear canal. Sometimes the surgery is done through a cut (incision) behind your ear. The doctor may use a small piece of tissue taken from behind your ear to patch the hole in your eardrum. Or the doctor may use an artificial graft to patch the hole. If the doctor made an incision, it will be closed with stitches.

You will probably go home on the same day of your surgery. Most people are able to go back to work or their normal routine in about 1 to 2 weeks. But if you must be very active or lift heavy things for your job, you may need to take up to 2 to 4 weeks off.

How do you prepare for surgery?

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your surgery. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance care plan. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make you sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.
  • The surgery will take about 1 to 3 hours.
  • You will have foam packing or ointment in your ear canal. Your doctor may take this out about 1 to 2 weeks after your surgery.
  • You may have strips of tape or a bandage over the incision behind your ear.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
  • You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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