Mastoidectomy is a an operation where damaged mastoid air cells are removed. The mastoid is the bump you can feel behind your ear. Sometimes chronic infection can occur in the air cells. This does not always respond to antibiotic treatment and sometimes the cells need to be cleared out surgically.
There are three types of mastoidectomy. Simple mastoidectomy involves removal of the infected cells and drainage of the middle ear space. In a radical mastoidectomy the eardrum is also removed. The middle ear structures are removed as well and a skin graft may be placed in the middle ear space. In a modified radical mastoidectomy some but not all the middle ear bones are removed and the eardrum is rebuilt. This is a less severe type of radical mastoidectomy.
Mastoidectomy can help when you have complications from chronic otitis media. This is when there is a long-term infection of the middle ear. If left untreated this can cause a cholesteatoma which is a skin cyst. It can worsen and lead to severe and unfortunate complications. These include deafness, dizziness, abscesses, meningitis and nerve damage.
A mastoidectomy may also be performed to put in a cochlear implant. This is a tiny, advanced electronic device which can provide hearing to people who are profoundly deaf.
Mastoidectomy is usually performed under a general anaesthetic. A small cut is made over the mastoid bone behind the ear. The bone is opened up and the cells are removed. The skin is sewn back over. When the patient wakes up they will have a bandage over their ear. Your surgeon will prescribe you medication for pain and might give you antibiotic cream to apply to the area to reduce the risk of infection. They are likely to arrange follow-up for you to have your wound reviewed and your stitches out.
It is probably worth keeping the area covered when you bathe to stop it getting wet. This is likely to reduce the risk of infection.
Complications of mastoidectomy include weakness of the face muscles from facial nerve damage. This is rare. Hearing may be reduced from damage to the inner ear. Vertigo and change in taste are also possibilities. Tinnitus can also result from the operation.
This article does not count as medical advice. Please see your doctor if any of these issues may be affecting you.
Dr Toby Bateson