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More about your treatment

Please take a few minutes to read through this information sheet which answers the most useful questions patients ask.


The most common reason for mastoidectomy is to have infected tissue removed from your middle ear and the mastoid bone (this is the “bump” behind your ear) which is connected to it. If you have cholesteatoma, the main purpose of the operation is to make your ear safe and so reduce the likelihood of you suffering complications from the disease spreading.

The most common cause of brain abscesses used to be from untreated mastoiditis (65%) and between 2 and 5% of untreated disease will suffer serious complications such as facial nerve palsy or complete loss of hearing or dizziness.

Depending on what is found to have been destroyed in your ear by infection, it may be possible to repair your hearing mechanism but this is not possible in all cases, and as stated earlier, the main purpose of the operation is to make your ear safe.

It is possible to eradicate the disease without opening the mastoid into the ear canal (Combined Approach Tympanoplasty). But more often it is opened for cholesteatoma (Radical or Modified radial Mastoidectomy).

If a Combined Approach Tympanoplasty is carried out, a second operation 12 months later is required to:

  1. check for recurrence of disease and
  2. to try to restore hearing.

Another reason for a less radical (major) operation is to explore the mastoid to ensure there is no dangerous disease (cholesteatoma) present, or to re-establish the mastoid as an air reservoir for the middle ear. This also leaves the ear canal wall intact (Cortical/Simple Mastoidectomy).

Please wash your hair the day before surgery.

After Effects

Your ear will have a dressing in it after the operation and will continue to have blood stained discharge or ooze a little, both while the dressing is in position and for several weeks after it is removed, until the cavity has completely healed. Some dressings used may dissolve whilst in the ear with the use of ear drops.

Unfortunately, a few ears continue to discharge and will require regular cleaning in the Outpatient Clinic (less than 20% of radical operations). If the ear canal wall has not been taken down, healing will be much quicker. You may feel dizzy for a few days after the operation, but this settles quickly. Occasionally, facial weakness results, but this is rare occurring in less than 1% of cases.

Follow Up

The sutures will be removed by your GP 6-7 days after your operation. If the cavity remains dry after healing, you should attend the Outpatient Clinic once every six or twelve months to have wax and debris removed from the ear cavity, otherwise you will be seen if any problems arise.

Length of stay

Most patients will go home on the day of the operation – but some patients may require an overnight stay.

For queries please contact: Ambulatory Care – (01908) 995 470