Myringoplasty* is the medical term for the surgical procedure to repair damage - normally a hole or a tear - in the ear drum ('myring' is Latin for membrane, specifically the 'tympanic membrane', or ear drum), also known as a 'perforated ear drum' or 'burst ear drum'.
A perforated ear drum can be caused by infection in the middle ear 'bursting' the ear drum, or by injury/trauma, for example being hit with some force directly on the ear.
Where a myringoplasty is performed and at the same time the middle ear is cleared of infection, the procedure is instead referred to as a 'tympanoplasty' (see Chronic Otitis Media). Ear drum perforations often heal without the need for surgery, although if this does not occur naturally a myringoplasty may be recommended by Dr Chang for one of two reasons:
1) Preventing water from getting into the middle ear
Recurrent ear infections can be caused by water getting into the ear where the eardrum is perforated, for example while swimming or showering or taking a bath. A myringoplasty repairs the tear and prevents water in the ear from causing these infections.
2) Hearing problems
A perforated ear drum can cause conductive hearing loss. This is where the air pressure waves that are responsible for sound cannot transmit properly from the outer ear to the middle ear. Hearing generally improves where a perforated ear is repaired
A myringoplasty procedure is normally conducted under general anaesthetic and takes 60-90 minutes to complete. Patients can usually return home on the same day as the surgery.
The procedure involves removing a very small piece of tissue from under the skin to provide a 'skin graft', which is then placed underneath the perforation in the ear drum. Special dissolving foam and/or dissolving stitches are used to keep the skin graft in place and a bandage is placed over the ear once the operation is complete, which needs to stay in place for 2-3 hours after the operation.
Post Operative Care
Dr Chang generally recommends home rest for two weeks, but to continue with any regular exercise routine, which will speed recovery. A return visit to the surgery is required 2-3 weeks after surgery to check the results and remove any remaining stitches or other packing material.
*myringoplasty is not to be confused with a myringotomy procedure, which is where an incision is made in the eardrum to allow excess fluid to escape.