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Stapedectomy: Before Your Surgery

Inside view of ear, showing ear canal and middle ear with detail of ear drum and bones of middle ear (malleus, incus, and stapes).

What is a stapedectomy?

A stapedectomy (say "stay-puh-DEK-tuh-mee") is surgery in your ear. It removes a small bone, called the stapes, from the middle ear. The middle ear contains three bones: the stapes, the incus, and the malleus. These bones help with hearing. This surgery is done when the tissue around the stapes (say "STAY-peez") hardens and prevents the stapes from working as it should. The doctor will replace the stapes with an artificial stapes. This is called a prosthesis.

You will get medicine to make you sleep or feel relaxed during the surgery. You will not feel pain. The doctor will use a microscope and place small surgical tools through the opening in your ear canal to do the surgery. The doctor may use a small piece of tissue from your ear to help attach the prosthesis and repair the middle ear.

The surgery usually takes 1 to 2 hours. When it is done, the doctor will put foam packing or ointment in the outer ear canal. Sometimes the packing needs to be removed, but usually the doctor uses a packing that will dissolve over time.

You will probably go home from the hospital the same day. Most people are able to go back to work or their normal routine in about 1 week. But if your job requires strenuous activity or heavy lifting, you may need to take more time 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.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions about when to bathe or shower before your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • 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 2 hours.

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.

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.