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Southern ENT & Sinus Center

Otolaryngologists located in Birmingham, AL

Ear pain and hearing loss are two signs of a ruptured eardrum, a condition that’s often repaired with tympanoplasty. At Southern ENT & Sinus Center in Birmingham, Alabama, D. Trent Lowery, MD, David Walters, MD, and Matthew Fort, MD, provide exceptional care for ruptured eardrums. Dr. Fort specializes in repairing eardrums, having performed tympanoplasty on many children and adults, ensuring that their hearing is restored and using his surgical skills to prepare the ear and promote proper healing. To learn more about tympanoplasty, call or book an appointment online.

Tympanoplasty Q & A

What is tympanoplasty?

Tympanoplasty is a surgical procedure to repair a ruptured eardrum in children and adults. The eardrum, or tympanic membrane, is a thin, flexible tissue between your ear canal and your middle ear.

When sound waves enter your ear, they make the eardrum vibrate. This movement is the first essential step toward hearing, as the eardrum vibrations trigger activity in the middle ear.

As a result, a ruptured or torn eardrum affects your hearing. The hole also creates an opening for bacteria and other harmful microorganisms, which makes the middle ear susceptible to infections.

What causes a ruptured eardrum?

The most common causes of a ruptured eardrum include a middle ear infection, a foreign object placed into the ear (often a cotton swab), severe head trauma, and barotrauma. 

Barotrauma develops when the air pressure in your middle ear is different from the air pressure in the environment. This problem most often occurs when flying in an airplane, during scuba diving, or due to a direct blow to the ear.

What symptoms indicate the need for tympanoplasty?

After the eardrum is damaged, you or your child may experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Ear pain that may improve quickly
  • Drainage from your ear
  • Hearing loss
  • Noise in the ear (buzzing)
  • Ringing in your ear (tinnitus)
  • Feeling like the room is spinning (vertigo)
  • Nausea or vomiting

The ear drainage could appear clear or contain pus or blood.

What happens during a tympanoplasty?

For a small rupture, your Southern ENT & Sinus Center provider may recommend giving the ear time to heal or perform a minimally invasive procedure called myringoplasty in which they cover the hole with a gel or special paper.

Many patients, however, need a tympanoplasty to ensure optimal healing and to fully restore hearing. During a tympanoplasty, Dr. Fort places a graft over the damaged part of the eardrum.

Dr. Fort may choose from several types of graft materials, but he frequently uses a small piece of tissue taken from beneath the skin just above the ear.

Before attaching the graft, Dr. Fort prepares the eardrum to ensure the graft takes hold and to minimize the risk of complications. Preparing the ear is a complex procedure that involves multiple layers of the eardrum, the rim around the perforation, and treating any problems in the middle ear.

One the ear is prepared, the graft is attached, and a head dressing that covers the ear is applied. It takes time for your ear to heal, so you won’t recover optimal hearing for several months.

If you need tympanoplasty, call Southern ENT & Sinus Center, or schedule an appointment online.