Ear Drum Scarring

What is otosclerosis?

Oto­scle­ro­sis, or ear drum scar­ring, can affect patients at any age and gen­er­al­ly wors­ens with time. After a patient under­goes a hear­ing test or audio­gram, an oto­laryn­gol­o­gist can deter­mine if a patient has ear drum scar­ring and if it can be treated.

On rare occa­sions, a patient may devel­op cochlear oto­scle­ro­sis, which is a pro­gres­sive and irre­versible hear­ing loss. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this spe­cif­ic prob­lem can­not be treat­ed surgically.


Surgery is the only treat­ment that can reverse or improve hear­ing loss. There are no med­ical (e.g. med­ica­tions) treat­ments which will cor­rect or improve the hear­ing in patients with oto­scle­ro­sis. Occa­sion­al­ly, flu­o­ride treat­ments may reduce the sever­i­ty of abnor­mal ring­ing or tin­ni­tus asso­ci­at­ed with ear drum scarring.


A stapes oper­a­tion may be rec­om­mend­ed for suit­able patients with scar­ring. This oper­a­tion was first per­formed in 1956 and can be safe­ly per­formed under local or gen­er­al anes­the­sia. Patients typ­i­cal­ly go home the same day from the hospital.

Surgery involves remov­ing the stapes bone under a micro­scope and replac­ing it with a pros­the­sis that will allow sound to be trans­mit­ted to the inner ear. Extreme­ly fine instru­ments are used to remove the dis­eased bone. A laser may be used dur­ing the oper­a­tion. Over 80 per­cent of patients who under­go stapedec­to­my have improved hear­ing after surgery. A small per­cent­age of patients have unchanged hear­ing and, on rare occa­sions, hear­ing may be worse after surgery.

If you do not qual­i­fy for surgery or do not wish to under­go the oper­a­tion, a hear­ing aid may be help­ful, although it will not pro­vide com­plete restora­tion of hear­ing loss.

Fre­quent­ly Asked Questions

What are com­mon side effects after surgery?

Most patients may expe­ri­ence tem­po­rary dizzi­ness or unsteadi­ness after surgery. These side effects usu­al­ly dis­ap­pear over a peri­od of hours to days. Unusu­al side effects may include ring­ing in the ears.

What should I expect after surgery?

Tem­po­rary pain, if any, is con­trolled with med­ica­tions. After surgery, hear­ing will not be opti­mal as the heal­ing process occurs. You should avoid phys­i­cal exer­tion and air trav­el after surgery for 2 weeks.

Does the surgery require gen­er­al anesthesia?

No. Surgery may be done under local seda­tion. Surgery is usu­al­ly day surgery and patients return home the same day.

After Surgery

It is nor­mal to hear unusu­al sounds and expect some dis­com­fort after surgery. Although some patients feel slight unsteadi­ness, call our office if you have severe dizzi­ness, ring­ing, or oth­er problems.

For 2 weeks after surgery:

  • Change cot­ton ball in the ear dai­ly or as needed
  • Avoid heavy lift­ing or exercise
  • Keep your ear clean and dry
  • Avoid blow­ing your nose
  • Avoid air travel.

Surgery Risks

Tem­po­rary or per­ma­nent dizzi­ness or ring­ing; tem­po­rary change in taste; in rare instances, worse hear­ing loss.

Sur­gi­cal Results

85% com­plete improve­ment (elim­i­na­tion of con­duc­tive hear­ing loss), 10% par­tial improve­ment, 5% no change, 1% worse hearing.

For more infor­ma­tion on Oto­scle­ro­sis, sched­ule an appoint­ment with an Oto­laryn­gol­o­gist (ENT).

Quick Ref­er­ence

What is Otosclerosis?

A dis­ease that involves abnor­mal fusion of the stapes bone to the inner ear. This dis­ease can be passed from gen­er­a­tion to generation.

Treat­ment Options

  • Micro­sur­gi­cal replace­ment of the stapes bone with a prosthesis.
  • Alter­na­tives to surgery: Hear­ing aids.